International

Pregnant woman in New Zealand mistakenly started on IVF

via flicker, IVF

In a fertility clinic error, a New Zealand woman was mistakenly started on an IVF cycle despite being pregnant, a report from the country’s Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) shows. 

The newly published report describes a 2017 incident in which a woman was undergoing IVF treatments in the care of the New Zealand clinic, Fertility Associates. The treatments included routine blood tests to determine whether she was in the correct part of her menstrual cycle to begin a round of IVF. At the test in question, the woman’s progesterone levels were high — a key indication that she was already pregnant. However when the test results were read to the on-call doctor who approved her IVF treatment, the progesterone levels were not relayed to him, nor was it noted by any of the other clinic workers. 

The woman started on her prescribed medication for 10 days, at which point she discovered she was pregnant. She immediately contacted the fertility clinic with her concerns, but the clinic did not acknowledge their error in missing the progesterone reading and failed to give a copy of the critical lab results when her husband requested a copy of all blood test results. 

READ: IVF tragedy: Couple learns about their ‘lost’ embryos, frozen for two decades

“We were saddened that what should have been an exciting and joyous moment in our life, the occurrence of a spontaneous pregnancy, turned into a very stressful and concerning time for us,” the couple said, according to Otago Daily Times.

The report did not provide details on whether or not the preborn baby experienced any harm.

An independent review of the couple’s case by a specialist criticized the IVF facility’s lack of rigor and adherence to protocols. “The bottom line is that [IVF] treatment should not have been started if staff were aware of the elevated progesterone levels,” the specialist told the HDC, according to Otago Daily Times. Yet Fertility Associates attempted to avoid culpability in a statement to the HDC: “We reject the accusation that we were somehow covering up providing the results.”

Sadly, the case is only one of many issues with the IVF industry, which is beset by problems including inconsistent and ineffectual regulatory laws, embryo abandonment, and the problem of consumerism. Some parents have lost their embryos when facilities experienced equipment malfunctions that resulted in the death of their preborn babies. Others have been subject to deception by sperm donors with unreported medical problems. People born by IVF through the use of donor sperm have reported feeling “mass-produced” and robbed of their identities and familial bonds, with one woman stunned to learn she had 29 siblings.

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