In Parenting, WOMEN

The Child Who Should Never Have Been

I thought everything had been settle with this case against Thomson Medical Centre but apparently, the verdict is not out. Thomson Medical Centre, is a renowned gynecology, obstetrics and pediatric centre in South East Asia. It was set up by Dr Cheng Wei Chen and his motive was simple, to make the birth and post-natal care experience as comfortable for his patients as possible. With a lot of trained gynecology and obstetrics doctors joining Dr Cheng Wei Chen’s cause, TMC grew to be the largest O&G Healthcare Provider in South-East Asia and one of the best. However, the case about the IVF mix-up last year, had not only tarnished the reputation of Thomson Medical Centre, it had also disgraced and defiled the IVF specialist and the embryologists who have been named in this case. I truly believe that as doctors, the IVF specialist would have only wanted the best for his patient, especially this was his patient’s second IVF procedure with him. It was due to a lapses in procedure and human error that caused a wrong child to be born.

Investigations were carried out that the Ministry of Health Singapore and the Health Authority released its findings that firstly, the embryologist was processing the semen specimens of two individuals at the same workstation, and at the same time.The best practice requires an embryologist to work on the specimens of only one individual or one couple at a time. Secondly, the pipette used to transfer the specimen was reused instead of being discarded. To prevent contamination and a potential mix-up, the disposable instrument should have been discarded after each step.

Thomson Fertility Centre (TFC) was set up by Dr Cheng Li Chang, who is the son of Dr Cheng Wei Chen, and is a renowned fertility and O&G doctor in Singapore in his own right. From what I know, Dr Cheng is a very nice and patient doctor, who cares for his patients. He has helped many infertile couples conceived over the years and because of this mishap and human error, he had to relinquish his position as the Head of TFC. Currently TFC operates out of Novena Medical Centre and is headed by Dr Loh Seong Feei, who used to to be the Head of KKH IVF Fertility Centre.

The mix-up had many repercussions, not only on the parents and the baby, but also all the medical staff who have been embroiled in this case. This is a very sad case for the doctors, parents and the child. I am still very perturbed by the fact that TFC with such high medical standards would reuse the pipette, which cost only a few dollars, instead of discarding it. I am also surprised and speechless by such brainless and foolish actions from a well-educated health professional. They should name the embryologist in the case and revoke his or her medical license to practice. If it’s the fault of the laboratory assistant, they should also name him or her and revoke whatever licenses he or she possess . It is not fair to blame just the IVF Specialist and the whole clinic because the IVF specialist and the nurses would not know what has been done in the laboratory. All they would see is the embryo which has been fertilized. In my humble opinion, Dr Cheng has to be blame only because he is the Head of TFC and he did not put in ample audits and protocols and thus resulted in such an unfortunate situation.

A mother’s birth of her child changes her whole life and those who go through IVF suffer more as they have to endure injections and the traumas of failing to get pregnant. Like the mother in the middle of this lawsuit, she must have been so traumatized. I am not sure if she had any post-natal depression after going through such a horrendous and inconceivable event. The child is hers but not has no relation to her husband. I am not sure how they are literally facing the facts of the whole situation. It must be so harrowing that they have decided to uproot and move to Beijing. And the fact that the mother has to care for the child everyday, she would be wondering who the real father of my child and why is his genes in my child? Should I meet him and discuss parental issues or is this child mine and only mine? The questions that are without answers must be unnerving.

IVF is an advanced and expensive procedure, endorsed by the Singapore Government to help and enable many couples who previously had little chance of conceiving to experience the joy of parenthood. At TFC, more than 900 IVF babies have been born to-date from their IVF programme, that means they have brought joy to more than 5400 people (inclusive of parents and grandparents), and to have their name smeared overnight by a careless procedural mistake, is enough for Dr Cheng and his team of fertility nurses and laboratory employees to suffer. I wouldn’t say anything but of course doctors are rich but I don’t think this is not something money can solve or placate.

The only right thing for the Singapore Courts to do is to rule for Thomson Medical Centre and the group of embryologists to pay all the support fee for the child, including livelihood, education and medical fees for the child until the child reaches 21 or adulthood. The defendants should also be pay for all the living, health, medical and education insurance which we as normal parents would buy for our children. The medical license of the embryologist who caused such a procedural mishap should be revoked. You have ruined the life of a mother who is now stranded and wondering how to bond with the child she never had with her husband.

I only want to hold you in my arms and take care of you for the rest of my living life.

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