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Friday, 23 February, 2001, 11:43 GMT
20,000 for extra IVF baby
Thompson
Patricia Thompson: 20,000 settlement
A woman who successfully sued a fertility clinic after she gave birth to triplets has settled the case - but has made no profit.

The 20,000 sum accepted by Patricia Thompson, of Thrybergh, South Yorkshire, will go to pay legal costs, as it is no higher than the offer made by the Sheffield Fertility Clinic prior to the court case.

Mrs Thompson, 34, had told the High Court that she told doctors to only put two embryos into her womb following IVF in 1996.

However, the clinic implanted three, all of which developed successfully.

She claimed that the extra child had forced her and her husband Peter to abandon their newsagent business, causing loss of earnings of up to 100,000.


It is against public policy to award damages for the cost of raising a healthy child

Suzanne Liversidge, clinic's solicitor
She has since had a fourth child conceived naturally.

The original 20,000 offer made by the clinic was to cover the additional pain of giving birth to three children rather than two.

Legal rules state that unless the final award or settlement is in excess of the pre-trial offer, then the plaintiff - Mrs Thompson - must pay her own costs.

Suzanne Liversidge, of law firm Halliwell Landau, which represented the clinic, said: "Sheffield Fertility Clinic was inundated with letters of support from all over the country concerning this action.

"There has been much speculation in the media that the compensation figure would be around 100,000.

Guidance on embryos

"This has been a highly sensitive case but one we have been determined to defend throughout, to prove the principle that it is against public policy to award damages for the cost of raising a healthy child."

Embryos implanted during IVF treatment frequently fail to develop, which is why it is standard practice to implant more than one, to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.

However, recent guidelines suggest that no more than two should be implanted in a single IVF cycle because the risks of multiple births cannot be justified.

Mrs Thompson, whose husband has suffered a heart attack since the triplets were born, told the Daily Mail that she was happy with the outcome.

She said: "This was not about money, but was about the fact that treatment was given without consent.

"We were lucky that we have healthy and happy babies and this money will not profit the family.

"Instead it will pay for the costs of defending a basic human right."

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See also:

16 Nov 00 | Health
Triplets mother wins IVF case
31 Mar 99 | Medical notes
IVF
21 Dec 98 | Medical notes
Multiple births and fertility treatment
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