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NHS Clinic Apologises for Egg and Embryo Freezing Mishap

Guy’s Hospital in London has issued an apology to more than 100 women after their eggs and embryos were likely damaged during the freezing process at its NHS-operated clinic.

The clinic contacted the 136 women after discovering it may have inadvertently used some bottles of a faulty freezing solution in September and October 2022.

However, the clinic said it did not know the liquid was defective at the time.

A Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said the manufacturing issue may adversely impact the chance of frozen egg or embryo survival during thawing.

The spokesperson said: “We were made aware of a manufacturing issue with some bottles of a solution that may have been used to freeze eggs and embryos in our Assisted Conception Unit in September and October 2022.”

They added that Guy’s Hospital has now contacted all those affected and apologised for the delay and any distress the error may have caused.

According to the BBC, it is believed that many of the women affected have subsequently had cancer treatment, which may have left them unable to conceive with their own eggs.

The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) said a safety notice about the faulty freezing solution was issued to all registered clinics in February 2023. A spokesman for the hospital said that its Assisted Conception Unit used the solution in September and October 2022.

HFEA director of compliance and information Rachel Cutting described the situation as “ongoing” at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Assisted Conception Unit, with an investigation now underway.

“We will take any further action required as a result of this investigation, in line with our standard incidents process,” she said.

“We are aware that this affected product may have been distributed to other UK clinics, although the HFEA is currently unaware of any other licensed clinic where patients have been affected.”

HFEA advised any fertility patients concerned that the issue may have impacted their frozen eggs or embryos should contact their relevant clinics.

Ms Cutting added that further action will be taken to ensure an error like this does not occur again.

“The HFEA investigates incidents in clinics to make sure that everything is done to understand what went wrong and, crucially, to take steps to ensure it does not happen again,” she said.

“We also share learning and notify other clinics of potential issues.”

Guy’s Hospital has advised that they have set up a dedicated phoneline for any patients impacted.

The NHS-operated clinic also stated that those affected can seek support through their counselling service.

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