A Massachusetts woman who was desperate for children is suing a hospital because its fertility clinic misplaced her viable embryo for 12 years.
In 2004 Marisa Cloutier-Bristol and her husband went to Women & Infants Hospital in Providence (in the neighbouring state of Rhode Island) for IVF treatment. She produced four embryos but doctors told her that none of them were viable.
The couple had a son, but Mrs Cloutier-Bristol says that she would have liked to have ten children if she had been able. “Never in our wildest dreams did we want an only child. Never.” Her husband, John Cloutier, died in 2006, and she remarried Michael Bristol.
Then in August 2017 she received a bill from the hospital for US$500 for storage of an embryo. The news that she had lost her chance of having another child was devastating. Not only was she in her early 40s, but the clinic had failed to obtain her deceased husband’s consent to transfer the embryo to her womb.
“It’s like grieving a child that I could’ve had that I don’t have. I feel completely and totally robbed.” She has filed a lawsuit for emotional damages. Her lawyer told the Providence Journal:
“We don’t want this to happen to anybody else, because we’re dealing with a human life form; we’re not dealing with furniture that’s kept in storage many years. These fertility clinics have to be extremely careful with this extremely delicate life form that they are handling and storing. That’s really what I think the goal of this lawsuit is, to send that message.”
“All of this is substandard and suggests a serious error by the clinic,” commented Josephine Johnston, of The Hastings Center. “They definitely should have obtained consent from her and her husband to frozen storage, and obtained written agreement from her and her husband about disposition under various circumstance including death.”
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge.
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