Statement from Midland Fertility Services on the Identification of Patients, Gametes and Embryos

Issue Date: Tuesday 16 June 2009

Statement by Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director of Midland Fertility Services (MFS):

“The HFEA Code of Practice requires all fertility clinics to have an effective witnessing system to identify and trace the movement of any gametes (sperm or eggs) and embryos during any clinical or laboratory process to prevent mismatch.

“Initially, MFS used a ‘human eye’ double-witnessing procedure which required two staff to verify the identification labels on the dishes or tubes containing any gametes or embryos during a patient’s treatment, for instance, when sperm are placed with the eggs or when embryos are transferred to the woman’s uterus.

“In 2008 MFS introduced an electronic bar code witnessing system, shown to be extremely efficient within the blood banking service, to replace the human-eye double-witnessing system.  The electronic ‘matcher’ system generates a unique barcode for every individual patient and couple which is applied to all dishes, tubes and sample pots which contain their gametes, embryos or blood.  Whenever these samples are used in any procedure, the barcode is scanned and matched against the patient’s notes before the next stage of the process can continue.

“In addition, all patients are photographed when registering at MFS, providing staff with a visual reference for their identification at all appointments and especially at key stages of treatment.

“The electronic witnessing system and patient ID photos are part of the rigorous BSI quality management system at MFS implemented in 1994 and subsequently developed to meet the requirement of BS EN ISO 9001:2008.  This underpins the delivery of all services at MFS and offers patients increased confidence that their gametes and embryos are safe at all times during treatment and storage at MFS.”



MFS was established in 1987 and is licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to offer a range of fertility treatments and procedures including IVF, ICSI, egg donation, egg and embryo freezing and sperm recovery.  In May 2002 the UK’s first ‘frozen egg’ baby was born following treatment at MFS.  In September 2005, the UK’s first twins were born from ‘frozen eggs’ fertility treatment at MFS, followed by the first ‘frozen egg’ boy in December 2005.  In April 2006 the clinic’s first twins were born following the mother’s treatment with Vi4gr4 as part of her fertility treatment at MFS.  In early 2008, the 4,000th baby was born after treatment at MFS and the clinic celebrated its 21st anniversary in June 2008.  Based in Aldridge, West Midlands, MFS treats both private and NHS patients.