Pregnant Woman in Last Trimester Who Underwent IVF Discovers Fetus Not Hers

It is still not known who the embryo came from, and Israel's Health Ministry says it will open an inquiry and bring in couples treated at Assuta Hospital around the same time in the same lab for genetic testing

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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Containers of frozen embryos at the in vitro fertilization unit at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, this year.
Containers of frozen embryos at the in vitro fertilization unit at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, this year.Credit: Hadas Parush
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

A pregnant woman in Israel who underwent in vitro fertilization discovered through genetic testing that the fetus in her womb does not genetically match either her or her husband. The woman is in her third trimester of pregnancy, and at the moment it is still not known who the embryo came from.

The Health Ministry will soon bring in couples treated around the same in the same lab for genetic testing and will open an inquiry into the affair.

The inquiry includes studying all the other cases treated in the lab on the relevant dates. Should any other tests be needed when it is completed, the hospital will be in touch with the couples involved. The inquiry committee will be made up of health professionals, including fertility and obstetrics experts.

The ministry said it had received a report on the matter from Assuta Hospital in the central Israeli city of Rishon Letzion, where the woman was implanted with the fertilized embryos. Assuta Hospital said a special helpline will be opened on Thursday for providing information on the matter, within the bounds of medical confidentiality.

This is an extremely rare case that has been under examination by IVF senior specialists since Tuesday evening, according to the hospital. Senior staff are focusing on all the cases of individuals treated on the same days the woman’s eggs were retrieved, fertilized, frozen and thawed.

Such a mistake can occur at the stage of registration and recording after the eggs are retrieved, or at the stage of embryo transfer back into the mother’s womb. These procedures all have a verification protocol to prevent such mistakes, however.

The inquiry is intended to determine whether the staff who carried out the procedures acted according to the medical protocols, at what stage the mistake occurred and who bears responsibility.

On Thursday, Assuta Hospital said it had identified and located thirty to forty women who underwent IVF treatments at the hospital on the same days that the woman with the unrelated fetus was treated. The hospital said it would be in contact immediately with all of them in order to determine if they were also involved in a mix-up.

Assuta Hospital said all treatments involving any of the embryos that were possibly involved in the mistake have been halted.

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