Health Ministry ends search for parents of mistaken embryo, won’t shutter ward

The Health Ministry says it is calling off a search for the biological parents of a baby whose embryo was mistakenly implanted in the wrong mother.

The ministry also says it has decided not to close the fertility ward at Assuta Medical Center in Rishon Lezion, where the mistake occurred, but will demand it trim its operations by 50 percent.

“We considered closing fertility treatments at Assuta Rishon Lezion, but won’t do so,” ministry chief Nachman Ash says. “The price that would be borne by the many people receiving treatment there would be too high.”

The entrance to Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital, in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, on January 26, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The infant was born last month, after the mix-up became a local media sensation. A search for the actual parents netted a likely match and briefly sparked a legal battle over the yet-unborn baby that was swiftly quashed when a genetic test revealed the matched couple to not be the genetic parents.

Assuta says it accepts the ministry’s ruling and has already instituted improvements to the ward. It says technological solutions will soon take any guesswork out of identifying embryos’ parents.

A group that says it represents people who were treated at Assuta and are unhappy with the level of care slams the ministry for “giving full backing to a hospital that seemingly acts with shocking negligence.”

“We demand that the Health Ministry stops its deafening silence. Speak to us and explain to us what is happening, give us answers for all the tough questions for which we still haven’t received a reply,” the group says in a statement carried by Channel 12 news.

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