Twenty-six couples who used fertility services from a Dutch clinic might not have a clear answer who the father of their child is.

According to a statement released by UMC Utrecht, it is investigating a procedural error that occurred from mid-April 2015 to November 2016 involving the intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) treatment it offers to couples looking to have children.

This procedural error may have possibly resulted in ova from 26 couples being fertilized with sperm cells from a male besides the intended father. The fertility clinic said that the possibility is small that the mix-up led to this result, but it cannot be completely ruled out.

Aside from launching its own investigation, UMC Utrecht has also contacted all of the couples affected and have reported the incident to the Dutch Healthcare Inspectorate. A personal meeting between the involved couples and treating doctor will be scheduled in the near future.

Fertility Clinic Mix-up

In an ICSI procedure, fertilization occurs when a sperm cell is directly injected into an ovum. It turns out, one of the fertility clinic's lab technicians used a pipette inappropriately to inject sperm cells. Pipettes are replaced after every use but the same rubber top was used by the technician. The same technician was the one who raised alarm over the possibility of wrong fertilization after finding sperm traces on the rubber top.

Out of the 26 couples involved in the possible mix-up, nine of the women have already given birth while four are still pregnant. The other 13 embryos involved are still frozen.

UMC Utrecht Resolutions

After the error was reported, the ICSI procedure in question was halted immediately and investigated to determine where it stemmed from. UMC Utrecht also formulated a plan for improvement and decided to reduce the clinic's activity scope to closely follow all procedures and ensure reliability.

Over the coming week, it will be decided which of the fertility clinic's activities will continue. At the very least, only treatments whose reliability can be guaranteed will be allowed to resume.

With the reduction in activity, UMC Utrecht's lineup of treatments for other couples may face delays as well. The fertility clinic said it is looking into how it can limit consequences for other couples as much 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," said UMC Utrecht.

Other couples who have availed of any of the fertility clinic's procedures and who may have questions about their treatments are encouraged to get in touch with UMC Utrecht.

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