A Dutch Fertility Clinic May Have Made The Worst Fertility Clinic Mistake

Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
On the long list of things that can go wrong on the journey to pregnancy, some things are definitely worse than others. Carrying a cup of your partner's semen on the subway, for instance, doesn't sound like the best time, but also could be kind of hilarious in a way. Getting implanted with an egg fertilized by someone other than the person you intended during your IVF treatment, however, is not at all okay no matter how you look at it.

A clinic in the Netherlands released a statement this week explaining that, due to a "procedural error," there's a chance that several of the clinic's patients may find themselves in this exact scenario, The Guardian reports. In fact, eggs from 26 women may have been fertilized with the wrong sperm — and half of them are either pregnant or have given birth.

The lab, University Medical Center (UMC) in Utrecht, explained that between April 2015 and November 2016, one of its technicians hadn't been following the standard protocol for pipettes used to insert sperm into eggs. Although this person was using a new pipette every time, the squeezy rubber top of the pipette had not been replaced. These may have been gathering sperm cells from previous procedures, making it possible for eggs to be fertilized with sperm intended for an earlier egg.

At this point, we don't know if that actually happened, but the UMC contacted the 26 couples to let them know about the possibility and has promised to do "everything within its powers to give clarity on the issue as soon as possible," the clinic's statement read.

If a mix-up did actually occur, it certainly wouldn't be the first time — for instance, a woman in Ohio sued a sperm bank in 2014, alleging it sent her the wrong sperm.

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