Accidental Thawing of Embryos, Cryopreserved for Transfer. Two Italian cases, Milan and Rome

Author(s): Francesco P. Busardò, Gianluca Montanari Vergallo, Emanuela Turillazzi, Giorgio Bolino, Annamaria Vullo, Paola Frati.

Journal Name: Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

Volume 17 , Issue 4 , 2016

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The bioethical and juridical debate on the status of frozen embryos sometimes adds new issues arising from new scientific evidence or by accidental occurrences that bring to the attention of the scientific community the need for new practical solutions. Within this scenario, there have been, in recent years, episodes concerning the accidental thawing of embryos, which have been cryopreserved for transfer. Two Italian cases (the Milan and the Rome cases) are here reported: the Milan case involves a couple undergoing artificial insemination. Three eggs were collected for insemination and two of them had been fertilized. During the night of 8/9 May 2007 a short circuit occurred, resulting in an electricity blackout, which caused the loss of the embryos in culture, which should have been transferred to the woman’s uterus on 9 May. The couple applied for damage compensation from the hospital following the loss of the embryos. The case went to Court and the result was a judgment issued by the Milan civil court, which recognized that the centre was to blame for irreparable damage to the embryos. The Rome case, involves two couples (A and B) affected by sterility who applied to an authorized public centre to undergo an ART program. Following the medical procedures, two of the embryos produced were transferred to the woman in couple A and five were frozen, whereas three embryos produced by couple B were transferred to the uterus of the woman and six eggs were cryopreserved in the centre. Two years after the procedure there was an electricity blackout, and the backup electricity generator failed to function, causing the loss of the gametes and the embryos cryopreserved in the centre. Legal proceedings begun by the couples to obtain compensation for damages are still underway. The above reported cases have significantly intensified the bioethical debate on the lawfulness of such practices and on the fate of the cryopreserved embryos, at the same time opening new frontiers in defining the type of damage caused by the accidental destruction of cryopreserved embryos destined for transfer.

Keywords: Frozen embryos, cryopreservation, accidental thawing, compensation for damage.

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Article Details

Year: 2016
Page: [321 - 325]
Pages: 5
DOI: 10.2174/1389201017666151231095901
Price: $65

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