Bizarre embryo mix-up at Rome hospital

Ospedale Sandro Pertini

Ospedale Sandro Pertini

And now what? Are the parents of twins whose embryos have been implanted in another woman with a similar last name going to feel any better now that several staff members at Rome’s Sandro Pertini hospital are under investigation?

An in vitro procedure appears to have gone awry at some point along the way: when the egg (or eggs) were retrieved, during the storage of the relevant test tubes, or when the fertilized embryos were then implanted in a woman’s uterus. The wrong woman, as it is now known, while a second woman is carrying twins that are not genetically related to her. What a mess!

The erroneous implantation apparently took place on December 4, when four women patients were scheduled to have viable embryos implanted in their uteri. Three of them became pregnant as a result of the procedure. The one who is not now pregnant is the biological mother of the twins implanted elsewhere.

Rome’s Pertini hospital is extremely active in the in vitro field, but stopped accepting new couples for treatment after the mix-up was made public. New procedures are to be adopted that will make identify the donor couples with codes rather than last names. And the number of patients on which the procedure will be performed will not exceed more than three per day. Since news of the case broke last week, the hospital has been inundated with calls from parents who are concerned that children they are expecting or have had thanks to fertility treatments may not related to them genetically.