IVF twin mix-up highlights need for reform

 Campaigners say they are 'shocked but not surprised' by the latest British test-tube baby mix-up case in which a white woman, with a white partner, has given birth to black twins. A spokesperson for Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE) said the case was one of a number of IVF mishaps which have occurred over the last ten years because of careless practice at a National Health Service IVF clinic. "The history of IVF reveals many examples of things going seriously wrong in clinics around the world, but we have always been reassured that protocols and practice were completely under control in the UK, thanks to the regulatory and monitoring role of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). In the light of this horrifying revelation I'm not sure we should be so complacent,' said a spokesperson for CORE today. 'It's to be hoped that this is not just the tip of the iceberg. After all this case has only come to public attention because of the different colouring of the twins. "CORE has confidential information of at least one other patient whose embryo went missing in a similar mix-up, but which was settled out of court. "It is time to demand answers to some vital questions. Are regulations sufficient to protect patient and embryo safety? Are the inspection protocols adequate, implemented regularly and capable of revealing inadequacies? Why was the last Annual Report of the HFEA delayed by at least eight months? Why does the report no longer carry detailed performance data? Are there serious problems with the data collecting capacity of the HFEA? Why are the HFEA asking for an unheard of four-fold increase in funding? Should we perhaps be limiting rather than extending (into stem cell research) the remit of the HFEA? Peter Garrett, Research and Education Director with pro-life charity LIFE, said: "This is a tragedy which may result in a painful and protracted court-case. LIFE is heavily involved in all forms of pregnancy counselling and we understand something of the trauma that such an event will cause. "It is now time to stop pretending that everything is fine in the world of IVF. The oft-repeated governmental claims that the (HFEA) is the envy of the world must be seen for what they are. "The reproductive technology revolution is already out of control and this is just the beginning of the disaster. In Finland last year one baby in every 33 was a test-tube baby, and other countries are following suit. With such large numbers of 'repro-tech' babies being gestated and born shock-horror cases are certain to rise to terrifying levels. "The HFEA has once again proved incapable of ensuring the right sperm matches the right egg, yet this is the body we are trusting to regulate the new human cloning industry in the UK. LIFE believes that the HFEA, and our increasingly out-dated legislation in this area, need a thorough examination before any more parents and children are hurt."