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London Women’s Clinic Gives Mum Abnormal Donor Sperm In ‘Shocking’ Label Mix-Up


A woman who was given abnormal donor sperm which resulted in her daughter being born with a genetic defect that will affect her ability to have children, has today (27 January) called on the prestigious private clinic responsible to show what action has been taken to prevent the same error being made again.

The mum, known as ARL as she cannot be identified for legal reasons, attended the London Women’s Clinic based on Harley Street in January 2009 to undergo IVF through an anonymous sperm donor, but staff used a donor which had been labelled as ‘normal’ despite it previously being screened and identified as abnormal.

ARL gave birth to a baby girl in October that year, but mid-way through the pregnancy was devastated to learn of the error that meant her daughter would have a balanced reciprocal chromosomal translocation from the donor sperm that leaves her at a greater risk of facing miscarriage or giving birth to a profoundly disabled child.

Appalled at what had happened, ARL instructed medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate and is speaking out for the first time after a High Court judge in London today approved an undisclosed settlement for her four-year-old daughter from the London Women’s Clinic to compensate for the problems she is likely to face in later life.

It follows an admission from the clinic that it failed in its duty of care to ARL and reached an out of Court settlement with ARL.

Matthew Waite, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s London office, said: “This is a shocking case that begs the questions, how on earth was it possible for this mix-up to happen and could it have happened more than once?

“My client understandably put her trust in the clinic and expected the care she was paying for to be of the highest standard.

“Whilst we welcome the settlement from the clinic, we would like to know what systems failed to allow the mix-up to happen – why was the abnormal donor sperm not destroyed, could it have happened more than once and what action has been taken to ensure the same mistake can never be made again?”

ARL added: “Choosing to undergo IVF with an anonymous sperm donor was not a decision I made lightly but I believed the London Women’s Clinic was one of the leading fertility centres in the country and I spent £30,000 with the clinic expecting a high-level service.

“I was delighted to learn it was successful but a scan half way through my pregnancy highlighted my baby had a genetic defect and I was informed it was due to a mix-up with the sperm donor.

“I was absolutely horrified. I couldn’t understand how it was possible for this to happen as I assumed there must be safeguards and systems in place to prevent any kind of mix-up.

“Now I’m left worrying about what the future holds for my daughter and the problems she may face in later life. Every parent wishes the best for their child but knowing that she may face such heartache and agonising decisions is incredibly difficult to live with and the source of much anguish.

“I have still not been given any information about why it happened which I find makes it difficult for me to move forward. I’m concerned that others may have been affected by the same mistake – if it was possible for the mix-up to happen with me, it could quite easily have happened to someone else.

“Nothing can turn back the clock for me and my daughter but I would like to know what lessons have been learnt by the clinic to stop it happening again. Until then, I cannot begin to accept what has happened.”


Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to medical negligence claims