An IVF treatment centre has launched an investigation after discovering that 26 women may have been fertilised by sperm cells from the wrong man. In a statement, the University Medical Centre in Utrecht, Netherlands, said sperm cells from one couple “may have ended up with the egg cells of 26 other couples” due to a “procedural error” between April 2015 and November 2016. That would suggest one man may end up fathering 26 children to strangers. Half of the women who received treatment have so far become pregnant or given birth.
For some of the 26 couples, frozen embryos are still available but the chance remains that they (too) have been fertilised by the sperm from a man other than the intended father.
Statement from the University Medical Centre in Utrecht
During IVF, mature eggs are collected from a woman’s ovaries and fertilised by sperm in a laboratory. One or more fertilised eggs are then implanted in the uterus. One cycle of IVF takes about two weeks. In 2012, a mother sued a clinic in Singapore after it mixed up her husband’s sperm with that of a stranger. The woman, who was ethnically Chinese, believed something was wrong when her baby had a different skin tone and hair colour from her Caucasian husband.