Mother wins case against the clinic that gave her triplets

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A woman who gave birth to triplets after fertility treatment won an unprecedented case yesterday against a clinic which she said had given her more babies than she had requested.

A woman who gave birth to triplets after fertility treatment won an unprecedented case yesterday against a clinic which she said had given her more babies than she had requested.

Patricia Thompson, with her husband, Peter, sued the Sheffield Fertility Clinic for breach of contract on the grounds that the unit had implanted an extra embryo into her against her wishes. The couple said they had only agreed to the implantation of two embryos.

Mrs Thompson, 34, said the triplets, a girl and two boys, had brought "a great deal of joy" to her, but she fought the case to get compensation for the cost of raising the third child. She said: "I think two is more than enough for anyone to have. I just wanted two babies or a baby."

The couple, of Thrybergh, South Yorkshire, paid £1,600 for private fertility treatment at the clinic after unsuccessfully trying for children for five years. The triplets were born in 1997 and were "fit and healthy", she said. "But the effort of looking after three children rather than the maximum of two that we had planned is absolutely exhausting and stretches our physical resources."

The couple later unexpectedly naturally conceived a fourth child, a daughter. She was born in 1998. Mr Thompson, 57, has three grown-up children from a previous marriage.

At the High Court in Sheffield yesterday Mr Justice Hooper ruled that the fertility clinic had breached its contract with the Thompsons. He said: "For reasons that I shall give later the claimant has shown on the balance of probabilities that she did not agree to the replacement of three embryos."

The cost of raising a child from birth to adulthood has been put at £100,000. The couple were only able to sue because they paid for treatment at the clinic. Had they had free treatment on the National Health Service they would have been barred from claiming the cost of raising a healthy child under a House of Lords ruling last year.

A hearing to assess damages will be held at a later date.

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