Shambolic mix-up: A single sperm is injected directly into an egg using the assisted reproduction technique intracytoplasmic sperm injection. In this case, the women's embryos were terminated after it was discovered that their eggs were fertilised with the wrong men's sperm.[Agencies]
Three women had their IVF treatments abandoned after a mix-up at a leading hospital led to their eggs being fertilised with the wrong sperm.
The embryos, which had not been implanted in the womb, were destroyed after an embryologist discovered the mistake. It is thought to be the result of an administrative error.
During the IVF process, eggs and the sperm are normally left in a Petri dish for around 18 hours so that fertilisation can take place.
In this case, the mistake was spotted within a few hours of the wrong sperm being put into each dish at Guy's Hospital in South-East London. The couples were told immediately.
Two years ago a watchdog concluded that the Assisted Conception Unit at Guy's was carrying out procedures it described as 'risky'. A report from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority warned that embryologists at the hospital were running the risk of confusing sperm samples from different men by preparing them in the same container.
Yesterday Sue Avery, a former chairman of the Association of Clinical Embryologists, described the latest revelation as 'very serious'.
She added: 'We would expect in the case of repetition that the HFEA might want to investigate unless they can be thoroughly satisfied that the centre has taken sufficient action.'
Some 37,000 women receive fertility treatment in Britain each year.
But problems with the labelling of sperm and eggs at a number of clinics have raised fears that dozens of babies may have been born to the wrong parents.
Although mistakes may often go unnoticed, mixed-race twins were born to white parents in Leeds in 2002 after the mother's eggs were fertilised with the wrong sperm.
Around 2,000 women receive IVF treatment every year at the Assisted Conception Unit at Guy's.
Josephine Quintavalle, from the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said yesterday: 'It is shocking that this can happen. These mistakes should be very hard to make - but it seems that they are in fact made rather easily.
'It is not as if the people who deal with the eggs and sperm are on a production line, churning out hundreds of embryos a day.
'They are dealing with very few and each one is incredibly important.
'It is essential that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority properlymonitors fertility clinics and also that they make available to the public their internal alerts on any mistakes so that would-be patients can be properly informed.'
A spokesman for Guy's Hospital said: 'In 2009 we identified potential problems with the eggs/sperm of three couples.
'All were notified of the issue and offered counselling and an additional cycle of treatment. No embryos were transferred.
'Internal investigations followed as to why these errors occurred and the HFEA was informed.
'As is the case with any internal investigation, appropriate learning followed and action was taken.'
The spokesman went on to say that the hospital has purchased an electronic tagging system to better monitor sperm and eggs, but said the system was not yet fully operational.
taken from : China Daily