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AFA Responds to Alleged Embryo Mix-Up Case in Ohio

AFA,  Sept 24, 2009
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An Ohio woman, 40 year old Carolyn Savage, claims a fertility clinic implanted the wrong embryo and that the baby she’s due to deliver the first week in October is not hers. Several media reports state Savage and her husband plan to give the baby boy to his biological parents. The name of the clinic is not being released in this very rare alleged case.

The AFA is issuing the following statements regarding the matter:


“If the facts in the Ohio case are concordant with media reports, it’s a very unfortunate circumstance for all concerned, a result not to be minimized or trivialized. The story is newsworthy, however, because it is an extremely rare event.

In 2007, there were 132,262 IVF cycles performed in the United States (Fresh, Frozen and Donor Egg, per the CDC) in which more than 300,000 embryos were placed into the intended recipients. Embryology laboratories have extremely rigorous procedures to maximally ensure public safety and the health of our patients and their children born of IVF.

The Ohio case is rarer than 1 in a million and I speculate that human error, not malintent, will prove to be the root cause. I have every confidence that each IVF program in the country will review their procedures and discuss this case to reinforce what we already know, that the work we do each and every day is very special and that the hundreds of thousands of patients we help each year are counting on us to do our best every day.”

-Alan Penzias, MD, Member, AFA Board of Directors


“Unfortunately, due to the acknowledged negligence of the IVF Physician and clinic, this Ohio couple, by choosing to proceed with the pregnancy, is obligated to afford the other couple the legal rights to this little boy. Any case, such as this that would go before a court of law, would likely grant full legal and physical custody to the other couple without any visitation to the Ohio couple. They appear to be aware of this – such an unfortunate event for all parties involved.”

-Theresa Erickson, Esq., Member, AFA Board of Directors; Member, AFA Legal Advisory Council


“As a psychotherapist and co-chair of The American Fertility Association, patients receiving treatments live in fear of this happening to them. The AFA continues to encourage patients to become educated consumers and ask their treatment providers about their procedures for safeguarding their genetic materials. Programs are required to have in place strict guidelines that are overseen by numerous state and federal agencies requiring very specific procedures to be practiced and in place by each reproductive center.

These incidents are rare and patients should feel assured that the majority of centers follow these rigorous guidelines. When these rare accidents do occur, it can be not only psychologically devastating to the couples involved in this mix-up but emotional damaging to the thousands of patients who are currently receiving or starting fertility treatments. We at the AFA hope that the media will allow these couples, the children involved, and the baby yet to be born to privately get the support that they need to cope with this emotionally difficult experience.”

-Patricia Mendell, LCSW, Co-Chair, AFA Board of Directors

The American Fertility Association, a 501 (c) (3) national non-profit organization is a lifetime resource for infertility prevention, reproductive health and family building. or 888.917.3777.

Brian Armentrout
Communications Director

Alan Penzias, MD

Theresa Erickson, Esq.

Patricia Mendell, LCSW


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