Frozen embryos: “It’s not an item in storage, it’s a life!”

Publié le : 1 April 2019

A woman from Massachusetts, USA, has sued the fertility clinic that froze her embryo for 13 years without her knowledge. Marisa Cloutier-Bristol and her first husband apparently dreamt of having ten children, but despite several cycles of IVF treatment [1] at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, they never managed to give their eldest son Brett any little brothers or sisters. During their last IVF attempt in 2004, four embryos were fertilized but all four were considered “abnormal” and discarded. In the end, the couple reluctantly abandoned their dream of expanding the family. “It was far from an easy decision. We really weighed up the pros and cons. But we knew it was what we had to do”. The woman’s husband died two years later of a heart attack at the age of 34, which shattered her hopes for good.

 

In 2017, when her son was by now a student and she had remarried, Marisa received a bill from the hospital ordering her to pay $500 for having stored her embryo for thirteen years. This was how she learnt that one of the four embryos from 2004 was actually “normal” and implantable. “I was furious. Many memories resurfaced. My husband’s death came back to me. Our hopes and dreams of having another child returned to me”.  Marisa Cloutier-Bristol sued the hospital last January, believing that this serious mistake “took away her right to have another child and caused her severe emotional distress”.

 

Even more surprisingly, she learnt through her lawyer that she did not have legal ownership of the frozen embryo. “Because, at the time, she and her late husband were never asked to sign consent forms or contracts, she now – according to her lawyer – has no rights over the embryo”. 

 

“It’s not an item in storage, it’s a life!” said the mother, who wants to do everything possible to ensure no parents ever again suffer what she is going through.

 


[1] In-Vitro Fertilisation

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