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THE solicitor representing an IVF couple whose last embryo was implanted in another woman by mistake said yesterday it was "an accident waiting to happen".

The couple had been trying for a second child with their only remaining embryo when the IVF Wales clinic in Cardiff, discovered the error. The woman wrongly implanted chose to have a termination after finding out what had happened.

The Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust has apologised for the blunder and paid the couple an undisclosed sum.

Their solicitor Guy Forster, from national law firm Irwin Mitchell, revealed yesterday there had been two previous near misses at the clinic the year before.

He said: "A report by Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) investigators shows the error occurred primarily due to failures by laboratory and theatre staff to carry out basic procedures.

"However, it is clear there were a number of system failings in that the clinic had failed to implement the procedures set out in the HFEA's Code of Conduct, workloads were above safe levels and there were staff shortages."

The couple, named by Mr Forster only as Deborah and Paul, attended the clinic on December 5, 2007, for their final embryo to be transplanted.

While they were waiting they were told a trainee embryologist had mixed up their embryo after taking it from the wrong shelf of the incubator.

Mr Forster said that against all guidance, more than one patient's embryos were temporarily stored in the incubator.

Speaking of her devastation Deborah, a 38-year-old hospital worker, told a Sunday newspaper: "In less than 10 seconds our wonderful world was shattered when the senior embryologist stood in front of us and said 'I'm very sorry to tell you, but there's been an accident in the lab. Your embryo has been destroyed'.

"We were both rooted to our seats. We were stunned and trembling. We held each other tightly and sobbed and sobbed.

"It was like water from a tap. I kept thinking 'They've killed our baby. Killed our baby'."

Ian Lane, the health trust's medical director, said: "We apologise unreservedly for this mistake.

"This was a rare but extremely upsetting incident for everyone involved and we take full responsibility for the distress caused to both couples and their families."

He said measures were being put in place to prevent such a mistake from happening again.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 15, 2009
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