In the period between mid April 2015 and mid November 2016, a procedural error was made in ICSI treatments at UMC Utrecht's IVF laboratory. As a result, sperm cells from another couple being treated may have been involved in the fertilization of the ova of 26 couples. In these cases, there is a chance that the ova have been fertilized by sperm cells from a man other than the intended father. The chance is small, but cannot be ruled out. Half of the women involved have now given birth or are pregnant. Embryos from these procedures have also been frozen. UMC Utrecht immediately started an investigation and has sought contact with the couples involved and submitted a report to the Dutch Healthcare Inspectorate (IGZ).

In ICSI, fertilization is brought about by the direct injection of a sperm cell into the ovum. Due to a practice that does not comply with the standard procedure, sperm cells from another couple being treated may have been injected into the ova during the ICSI treatments in question. The ICSI procedure in which this was discovered was immediately halted. The deviating practice is also no longer being applied. There are still frozen embryos available for a number of the 26 couples and there is a chance that the ova were fertilized by sperm cells from a man other than the intended father. This chance also appears to be slight, but cannot be ruled out. These couples are being consulted to decide whether it is desirable to replace these embryos.

UMC Utrecht immediately started an investigation into the possible cause of the deviating practice. An improvement plan has also been formulated. To guarantee the reliability of laboratory activities, the scope of activities has been reduced for the time being so that procedures can be closely followed. Over the next week, a decision will be made as to which activities can be resumed, whereby only those treatments for which the reliability is guaranteed will be resumed.

Reducing the laboratory's activities may lead to delays in planned treatments for other couples. UMC Utrecht is examining how the consequences for couples and the laboratory can be limited as far as possible.

The supervisory board regrets having to burden the couples involved with this news and everything will be done to provide clarity for everyone as soon as possible. For the couples involved, a personal meeting with the treating doctor will take place in the near future during which their questions can be answered.

Couples who themselves are involved in a procedure and have questions about their treatment can contact UMC Utrecht on the following number: +31 (0) 88 756 99 88 

This number is available from 08:30 til 17:00 (CET)