Hospital stops accepting new IVF applicants after embryo mixup

Assuta Medical Center claims it halted new procedures on its own initiative, but TV report says Health Ministry decided to sanction the hospital

Illustrative image: A lab in an IVF clinic. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Illustrative image: A lab in an IVF clinic. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

A hospital in central Israel has reportedly been barred from accepting new patients who wish to undergo in vitro fertilization procedures after it accidentally placed the wrong embryo in a woman’s uterus.

The Health Ministry told Assuta Medical Center it would not be allowed to accept new IVF applicants as it investigates the matter, Channel 12 reported on Saturday.

For its part, the hospital in Rishon Lezion told the network that it made the decision itself to halt accepting new patients and notified the Health Ministry.

On Wednesday, Assuta told the Health Ministry that it had conducted a genetic test on a pregnant woman who had an embryo transfer following IVF, and discovered the fetus was not genetically matched to the woman or her partner. The woman is in her 30th week of pregnancy.

The ministry has established a committee to investigate the incident.

On Friday, the hospital announced that it had likely identified the individual whose embryo was accidentally placed in another woman’s uterus during a botched in vitro fertilization procedure.

The hospital said it had narrowed the list of possible women from 40 to 10 and that the individual it believes with a high probability is the fetus’s biological mother is not pregnant and has been updated regarding the situation.

The hospital added that all cases conducted in the relevant lab were being closely examined.

Illustrative: An in vitro fertilization embryologist works on a petri dish at a fertility clinic in London, August 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Sang Tan, File)

According to a Thursday report on Channel 12, this wasn’t the first time Assuta had been at the center of an embryo mix-up.

The network said the hospital had also lost an embryo belonging to another couple. The woman from that previous case told Channel 12 news that the fate of her embryo remained a mystery, saying she feared that it was transferred to someone else’s womb. It was unclear exactly when the incident occurred.

According to the network, the couple came to a financial settlement with the hospital after the embryo was lost.

An anonymous former hospital employee said she’d witnessed several instances of neglect involving the handling of embryos while working at Assuta.

The hospital refused to respond to the anonymous claims.

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