The Ministry of Health said on Sunday it was suspending its search for the biological parents of an embryo that was mistakenly implanted in the wrong mother. He also said he would not close the fertility ward at the hospital where the mistake was made.
After a hearing on the insemination unit at the Assuta Medical Center in Rishon Lezion, the ministry announced that it had decided not to close the fertility ward, but would ask it to cut its operations by 50 percent – from 10,000 fertilization treatments a year to 5,000.
“We have considered closing fertility treatments at Assuta Rishon Lezion, but we will not do so,” Health Ministry Director Nachman Ash told reporters. “The price that would be borne by many people who receive treatment there would be too high.”
The mix-up became a local media sensation. After tests showed a potential couple were not the baby’s biological parents, the ministry “made the decision not to continue the search for the parents,” Ash added.
The baby’s mother has said she wants to keep him and has previously vowed to fight any attempt to strip her of custody. The mistake was discovered shortly before the baby was born born in October.\
Any couple who want to control a child’s parentage claim will now have to appeal to the court system to do so.
Assuta said in a statement that he accepted the ministry’s decision and has already created improvements in the department. He said technological solutions will soon take all the guesswork out of identifying the parents of embryos.
A group of patients treated at Assuta, who have been concerned about the level of care there since the story broke, criticized the ministry after the decision to “give full support to a hospital that appears to be acting with shocking negligence.
“We demand that the Ministry of Health stop the deafening silence. Talk to us and explain what’s going on, give us answers to all the hard questions we still don’t have an answer to,” the group said in a statement.
A former hospital employee claimed anonymously in September that she had witnessed several cases of negligence involving the handling of embryos while working at Assuta, an allegation the hospital refused to respond to.
A week later, the manager of Assuta’s IVF lab said that a “certain percentage” of women undergoing in vitro fertilization across the country carry an embryo that is not their own, although the hospital distanced itself from his claims.
Although extremely rare, similar cases have been reported elsewhere.
In November 2021, Los Angeles Times reported that a woman had given birth to her second daughter, only to discover a few weeks later that the daughter was unrelated to him. In that case, the woman retained custody of the girl.