Accidental thawing of embryos, cryopreserved for transfer. Two Italian cases, Milan and Rome

Francesco P. Busardò, Gianluca Montanari Vergallo, Emanuela Turillazzi, Giorgio Bolino, Annamaria Vullo, Paola Frati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-325
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
Volume17
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016

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Embryo Transfer
Embryonic Structures
Embryo Loss
Electricity
Eggs
Uterus
Artificial Insemination
Germ Cells
Infertility

Keywords

  • Accidental thawing
  • Compensation for damage
  • Cryopreservation
  • Frozen embryos

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Biotechnology

Cite this

Accidental thawing of embryos, cryopreserved for transfer. Two Italian cases, Milan and Rome. / Busardò, Francesco P.; Vergallo, Gianluca Montanari; Turillazzi, Emanuela; Bolino, Giorgio; Vullo, Annamaria; Frati, Paola.

In: Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Vol. 17, No. 4, 01.03.2016, p. 321-325.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Busardò, Francesco P.; Vergallo, Gianluca Montanari; Turillazzi, Emanuela; Bolino, Giorgio; Vullo, Annamaria; Frati, Paola / Accidental thawing of embryos, cryopreserved for transfer. Two Italian cases, Milan and Rome.

In: Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Vol. 17, No. 4, 01.03.2016, p. 321-325.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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