O what a tangled web…

… we weave!

When first we practise to deceive…


OK, since Louise Brown, in-vitro fertilised babies have brought limitless joys to innumerable couples who won’t have had the chance to become parents if not for the technological break thru.

This said, I wonder if there has been any thorough and extensive studies done about the flip side of the technology?

I personally know of two IVF cases: one with a to-date happy ending while the other is a rather sad one, especially for the woman involved. She died while undergoing treatment at a major hospital here to have her “eggs” harvested to be fertilised by her husband’s sperm.

This was more than a decade ago when the procedure probably wasn’t as routine as it is today. The dead woman’s sister was the property agent who secured me my current home.

This agent gave me details about the tragedy in the hope that I would write about it. I never did, though I did pass the details to others whom I thought might have been interested… but they weren’t also!

As for the other IVF case, it again involved a friend’s sister. The sister was carrying the IVF baby when her husband died. The mum herself died soon after the baby was born, leaving the IVF daughter an orphan when she was barely two.

Still, this kid was lucky and a loving aunt brought her up as her own, so that she never wanted for love or the best things in life. And so far, she is pursuing a career already marked by several milestones of success.

But what about the IVF baby born recently whose DNA doesn’t match that of the father’s and has a skin color that’s different from those of both “parents”?

This debacle happened at the Thomson Medical Centre which subsequently has been stopped by our Ministry of Health from carrying out new in-vitro fertilisation treatments till a full inquiry finds out what is what.

There has been much comment about this tragedy online and off but I particularly like two comments, the first picked up from a blog I follow regularly and the other from responses on the ST online Forum.

Here is what Gigamole has to say: What is further required is a full and proper audit of all IVF facilities to ensure that procedures are not only in place, but that centres are in full compliance of procedures. In addition, regular annual audits should be implemented, perhaps with a way to monitor outcomes… for example routine genetic screening of babies to ensure babies are who the centres say they are.

Putting similar sentiments more crudely is someone on the ST Forum who said: “.. couples who have a child or children from IVF better check DNA of their ‘offspring’ ”

That’s the Pandora’s box which the Thomson Medical mistake has opened. Just how can patients ever be sure that the technicians left to assist in the fertilisation process will never be tempted to play god and muck around with the specimens, either out of misplaced helpfulness or spite or some psychopathic mischief?

We are always afraid that disgruntled chefs and waiters might spit into our food after we send back a dish? Why don’t we ever consider that a disgruntled doctor or his staff might do similar, with devastating results, especially in the delicate process of artificially mating sperm with ovum?

6 thoughts on “O what a tangled web…

  1. you know, it’s horrible, but it’s something waiting to happen if humans are involved… people make mistakes all the time. no doubt protocols should have been in place, like the mandatory procedures staff need to undertake when checking a bag for a blood transfusion, but it’s not foolproof against mistakes.

    i shudder to think of the no. of mistakes that have been made that were covered up….

  2. Pingback: O what a tangled web… « FOOD fuels me to talk… -

  3. Areya: re medical mistakes. Guess not only in the IVF process but also in other procedures as well. What hits the headlines is probably the tip of an iceberg. That’s y one journalist is credited to have said to a doctor: We live with our mistakes; you bury yours 😀

  4. Depends on the country. Things are more likely to get exposed in the UK than elsewhere. Furthermore the UK has LOADS of policies/protocols – often bordering on insulting intelligence – to prevent these mistakes from happening, stands to reason that any kinda serious mistake that has escaped said preventative measures cause a bit of a furor and are outed quite obviously.

    Not in Sg, nor switz, clearly..

  5. At least from my own observations, having lived there, having a european husband who is also a dr (and thus am familiar with the way things work back in his homeland) , having been in sg hospitals, and having heard from fellow colleagues both there and in other countries. Medicine is a political business in UK, so policies regulating the profession pander more to the public. Is good in its tendency to reduce cover-ups that are typical of the fraternity, but is bad when it tries to impose ridiculous regulations.

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