Testing uncovers another possible embryo mix-up at Assuta clinic

Results show DNA of child, born through IVF at Tel Aviv hospital in 2018, may not match father’s, less than a year after similar error ignited media storm

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

Illustrative image: A single sperm is injected directly into an egg as part of IVF (Lars Neumann; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image: A single sperm is injected directly into an egg as part of IVF (Lars Neumann; iStock by Getty Images)

A child born through in-vitro fertility treatment at a hospital in Tel Aviv may not be genetically linked to his father, the Health Ministry said Thursday, sparking concerns of another embryo mix-up following a similar incident last year.

The parents and their children underwent medical testing overseas when they were told of the potential mismatch with the father’s DNA, the ministry said in a statement. The couple underwent the IVF process in 2018 through Assuta Hospital in Ramat HaHayal.

Last September, a woman discovered that her embryo had been mixed up at the hospital’s Rishon Lezion branch. She and her husband waged a months-long legal battle to keep the baby, Sophia, who was born in October.

The Health Ministry said it was informed of the recent suspected case from a third party, not from Assuta, and was investigating. It added that the parents were being updated on the matter.

After the story broke, the hospital said it had received the inquiry from the parents on the issue earlier this week, but added that the couple did not want to carry out genetic testing to confirm the mix-up.

“It is not known at this stage if there are other parents that are relevant to the incident. As more details become clear, we will update the Health Ministry and the public subject to the limitations of medical confidentiality,” Assuta said.

Assuta Medical Center in Rishon Lezion. (Screen capture: Google Maps)

In last year’s mix-up, the Health Ministry initially sought to find the child’s biological parents, but after one couple thought most likely to be the parents was ruled out by tests, officials announced in November that they would halt the search.

In March, the Supreme Court decided not to allow further genetic testing to go ahead for six other potential couples to determine if they were the biological parents of the child.

According to the ruling, justices determined that there was very little chance that the six couples may be the biological parents, and that the birth mother and her husband’s legal claim over the child was stronger.

A Health Ministry probe into the incident at Assuta Rishon Lezion pointed to significant breaches in protocol due to heavy workload resulting in the misplanting of the embryo.

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