An Italian woman having IVF treatment is carrying twins that are not her own following an apparent hospital mix-up.
Italian government inspectors were due yesterday at the Pertini hospital in Rome, where the treatment took place, after a pre-natal check showed that the woman's unborn children possessed different DNA to her and her husband.
The woman, who has not been named, had IVF treatment on December 4, at the same time as three other women, one of whom had a similar surname, the Italian press reported yesterday. Staff may have mixed up the embryos ready for insertion, or the women might have even responded to the wrong name when they were called from the waiting room for treatment, according to reports.
Michele Ambrosini, a lawyer representing the woman, said she was determined to push on with her pregnancy. "If she had wanted an abortion she would have already done it," he said.
Experts said that the real mother of the twins - whose IVF pregnancy reportedly ended with a miscarriage - would have no chance of claiming custody, since, under Italian law, whoever gives birth to children is the legal mother.
The case is another blow to the reputation of Italy's medical profession. Last week, Paolo Brega Massone, a Milan surgeon, was jailed for life after carrying out unnecessary operations, in which four people died, to increase his earnings from the health service. A report yesterday found that the practice of doctors falsifying records to inflate claims, including one who listed plastic surgery as cancerous tumour operations, cost Italy 1 billion euros (NZD $1.6 billion) last year.