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An IVF Center May Have Fertilized 26 Women’s Eggs with the Wrong Sperm

Asian scientist using microscope in the laboratory

Using the wrong sperm to fertilize a woman’s egg is pretty bad, but it’s unfathomable when the mixup involves 26 women’s eggs. This is what happened when one Dutch man may have unknowingly fertilized 26 women’s eggs because of a mixup at an IVF clinic. Oy.

The New York Post reports that a lab error led one man’s sperm to be used to fertilize the eggs for many other couples being treated at the center. This is a BIG error to make, don’t you think? In a statement posted on their website, the University Medical Centre in Utrecht, Netherlands said there was a “procedural error” that occurred between mid-April 2015 and mid-November 2016.

This basically means that the sperm cells from another couple may have been used to fertilize eggs from 26 other couples being treated at the same clinic. Out of the 26 women involved, nine have had children–and four are currently pregnant.

According to the BBC, the technique used was intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI. In ICSI, a pipette is used to inject one single sperm cell into an egg. At this Utrecht clinic, a lab technician changed the pipette each time, as is protocol, but didn’t replace the rubber top on the pipette for each procedure–and didn’t put a filter in either. This oversight means there’s a chance that sperm cells from previous treatments were injected into the eggs instead. What pesky sperm.

It’s a small chance, but it’s still a chance nonetheless. As of now, an investigation is taking place.


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