Unable to make babies on their own, more than two dozen couples went to a top-flight fertility clinic in the Netherlands for help.
But the clinic has announced it may have been leaving old sperm on its tools for more than a year – and now those couples face the prospect of raising a stranger’s biological child.
“The chance is small, but cannot be ruled out” that women were “fertilized by sperm cells from a man other than the intended father,” officials at the University Medical Center in Utrecht said in a statement this week.
It’s not the first mass case of artificial insemination potentially gone awry, though most high-profile bungles have mixed up anonymous donors.
In this case, the medical center said that it was trying to contact 26 men and women – half of whom already have or are expecting a baby – for 26 very difficult conversations.
“The supervisory board regrets having to burden the couples involved with the news,” the statement said.
The New York Times reported that the women were contacted after the statement’s release and were offered DNA tests.
The patients didn’t use the most common method of in vitro fertilization, in which egg and sperm are combined in a petri dish.
Rather, they used a newer procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, which can help men with scant or sluggish sperm by shooting it directly into an egg cell.
A technician had just finished an injection in November, a hospital spokesman told the Times, when she discovered sperm from a previous patient on the…
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