Current Affairs
Minister Fearne says human error caused incident with IVF incubator

Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne made a statement in Parliament last night about the incident which happened in January of last year with an IVF incubator where there were nine embryos. Dr Fearne said that the board of inquiry indicated that it was was a result of human error and that steps were being taken to increase the precautions against similar incidents happening again. Dr Fearne passed a copy of the inquiry’s report to the Opposition.

Minister Fearne told Parliament that the inquiry led by Judge Magri had established the fact that the incubator had ended up in standby mode had nothing to do with the power cut at Mater Dei.

The inquiry concluded that the embryos involved did not result in pregnancy. The equipment was in good working order and it appears that what happened was as a result of human error. The couples involved were given a new IVF cycle and three of these couples went on to have children. Dr Fearne said that the couples were all refunded the expenses they had incurred.

The board of inquiry found no proof that any person or fact affected the use of the IVF incubator. Minister Fearne mentioned that the recommendations of the board were being implemented. He said that in the last few months, five embryos had been frozen according to the current law, with two of them being implanted into the patient, while three others were frozen.

The Opposition spokesman for Health, Stephen Spiteri expressed his sympathy to the couples involved because of the emotional situation they had found themselves in. Dr Spiteri said that something can always go wrong in the use of this assisted  technology. He urged that all protection possible should be given to embryos and that there could be repercussions when man tries to be above nature. He said that what happened with the incubator may have interfered with the development of the embryos. He urged for Parliament to keep its eyes open and be aware that every legislation may have a negative impact on society. MP Claudio Grech said that responsibility should be shouldered for the nine embryos which did not develop.

In his reply to the MPs, Minister Ferne clarified that the accident with the incubator happened under the existing law. He said that the Government spoke with the company which manufactures the incubator and steps have been taken so that there will not be a repetition. Dr Fearne told the Opposition that if it is against IVF it should say so, loud and clear.

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