October 28, 2002
1924 IST

 US city pages

  - Atlanta
  - Boston
  - Chicago
  - DC Area
  - Houston
  - Jersey Area
  - Los Angeles
  - New York
  - SF Bay Area

 US yellow pages


 - Earlier editions 


 - Astrology 
 - Cricket
 - Money
 - Movies
 - Women 
 - India News
 - US News

 India Abroad
Weekly Newspaper

  In-depth news

  Community Focus

  16 Page Magazine
For 4 free issues
Click here!

 Search the Internet
E-Mail this report to a friend
Print this page Best Printed on  HP Laserjets

Implant of wrong embryos: Indian
at centre of row in London

Shyam Bhatia in London

An Indian doctor is at the centre of a furious row at a famous London hospital where two women were implanted with the wrong embryos during In-Vitro Fertilisation operations.

Dr Geeta Nargund is the former director of the fertility unit at the Diana, Princess of Wales Centre for Reproductive Medicine at St George's hospital in Tooting where two women patients were forced to undergo an emergency procedure to have the embryos removed.

The women patients had gone home believing they were in the first stages of pregnancy.

But within hours, they were informed that they were carrying the wrong embryos.

An emergency technique was carried out to flush the embryos from their wombs and they were administered drugs to ensure there was no risk of pregnancy.

The ordeal left both women devastated, traumatised and 'emotionally drained'. They have since been offered counselling by the hospital, which has apologised.

Both women were later given further fertility treatment by Dr Nargund and became pregnant.

Senior staff at the hospital are furious that the two men believed to be responsible for the error have escaped discipline while Dr Nargund, respected head of the clinic who discovered the blunder just in time, had been suspended in September and the clinic closed.

Both the doctor and the embryologist are believed to have broken established protocol set out by the Human Fertilisation and Embrology Authority (HFEA), designed to reduce the possibility of errors.

These state that two embryologists should be present to double check the origin of embryos before implantation and that the doctor should confirm with the patient that her name is on the dish containing the embryo.

Colleagues of Dr Nargund claim she is being punished for demanding that the doctor and embryologist be disciplined.

Professor Stuart Campbell, the consultant who set up the unit, said: "Dr Nargund has been basically treated like a criminal - she was phoned and told her unit had been closed down. When she got back, the locks at the clinic had been changed. She's not allowed to talk to her patients."

"It is unethical to forbid a consultant to speak to her patients, some of whom were halfway through IVF cycles. Some of these patients were mid-cycle, which is terribly dangerous. Dr Nargund has a very good reputation. She has been treated shamefully," he said.

Patients were turned away from the clinic nearly three weeks ago. A note explained that the centre had closed due to 'staff shortages'.

Patients later received a letter from the St George's Hospital Trust telling them their cases had been transferred to the King's College hospital.

"Nothing has happened to the doctor or embryologist, but Dr Nargund now finds herself suspended and out in the cold," a senior research scientist, who used to work for the fertility unit, is quoted as telling the local media in London.

Managers at the hospital, however, insist there is no connection between Dr Nargund's suspension and the embryo mix-up, which happened last April.

They say the unit, which was not financed by the UK's National Health Service, closed for want of trained staff and financial losses. They also claim Dr Nargund had been suspended for 'non-clinical matters'.

Medical Director of St George's Professor Paul Jones said: "We've carried out a very careful inquiry into what went wrong. St George's tries to operate a low blame culture so that rather than just blaming people for the mistakes, we went into very great detail of how the unit works and came up with a lot of things the unit needs to address."

"We now have procedures in place to ensure that it (mix-up of embryos) doesn't happen again," he said.

But the blunder has come in for heavy criticism from Tim Hegley of the patient group Electronic Fertility Network who said, "How can mistakes like this keep happening? If you can't read a simple label and carry out the right checks, you shouldn't be working."

Back to top

Tell us what you think of this report