A man who sent his sperm to a Dutch IVF lab may have ended up with many more offspring than he bargained for. In what the University Medical Center in Utrecht says was a "procedural error," sperm from a single client may have been accidentally used to fertilize the eggs of up to 26 women, AFP reports. Half the women are either pregnant or have already given birth, while the others apparently have the frozen embryos in storage. The center says there's only a small risk that the egg cells "have been fertilized by sperm other than that of the intended father," but the possibility "could not be excluded."
The center says the deeply unfortunate mix-up happened between mid-April 2015 and mid-November this year and that it "regrets that the couples involved had to receive this news," the BBC reports. What officials think happened during the intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection procedure, in which sperm is injected directly into an egg using a pipette: A technician changed the pipette during each procedure, but used the same rubber top. Eventually, he noticed traces of old sperm in the top, and as the BBC puts it, "raised the alarm." The center promised the couples involved that it will do everything in its power to provide "clarity" on the issue as soon as possible. The center, which is the only one in the region that provides IVF treatment, has temporarily suspended services but aims to be performing procedures again within days. (There is now an equivalent of Tinder for sperm donors.)