A woman who struggled to fall pregnant for five years suffered a miscarriage after contracting food poisoning from a chicken bought at Tesco.
Lisa Fessey and her husband, both 41, had been trying to conceive since 2009 and had turned to IVF in a last ditch attempt to start a family.
After two unsuccessful attempts the couple were overjoyed when embryos were transferred into Lisa’s womb without complication. However their dreams were tragically dashed when Lisa contracted food poisoning after eating a cooked chicken from Tesco and subsequently miscarried.
Heartbroken Lisa said “It is just devastating for us, we had suffered years of heartache and frustration and believed we would finally be able to start a family of our own. But then I was taken ill with food poisoning after eating a chicken from Tesco and lost the embryos, it was such a crushing blow for us as realistically it was our last chance. We are no long entitled to IVF on the NHS and we cannot afford to pay for it privately so we hoped Tesco would help but they turned us down.”
Lisa, a travel agent, and her husband decided to undergo IVF treatment after they had gone more than five years unsuccessfully trying to conceive. In June 2012 Lisa underwent her final procedure on the NHS after two failed IVF attempts and was delighted when the embryos were successfully transferred to her womb. Two days later her husband visited their local Tesco supermarket in Barnsley, Yorks, and bought a whole chicken from the delicatessen for their dinner. The following evening Lisa began to feel unwell and soon after suffered severe diarrhoea. Her symptoms continued for a couple of days before she went to see her GP.
Her doctor revealed she was very dehydrated and sent her to Barnsley District General Hospital where she was placed on a drip for two nights. Sadly on the Friday evening her illness finally took its toll and Lisa lost the two embryos.
She said “We had been trying for a few years now to start a family but it just wasn’t working for us so eventually we decided we wouldn’t be able to conceive on our own and looked into IVF. There are only a maximum of three free IVF cycles available on the NHS so we decided to make the most of our opportunity. I did everything I could to improve our chances of conception so I became tee-total, quit cigarettes and improved my diet – I even stopped having my morning coffee. Even so the first two attempts did not work and we started fearing the worst before our third and final attempt however there seemed to be a ray of light when doctors were successfully able to transfer two embryos into my womb. It all seemed to be going so well until my husband bought us the chicken from the delicatessens at Tesco and it all went wrong. I started to feel very ill the following day and ended up in hospital.
In hospital doctors carried out tests and told me I was suffering from campylobacter bacteria which resulted in severe dehydration and diarrhoea. When they told me the embryos had failed I was heartbroken, I knew it was my last chance as we simply cannot afford to do it privately and at 41 my chance of success are plummeting every day.”
Two days later Lisa returned home and was visited by an environmental health officer from Barnsley Council who concluded the cause of her food poisoning was her chicken from Tesco. The official went to visit the store and noted a number of potential health concerns including poor handling of raw chicken and insufficient cleaning practices of preparation surfaces. Once she knew the cause of her illness, Lisa decided to write to Tesco and explain her situation in the hope that the supermarket giant would cover the cost of a new cycle of IVF.
She said “I thought I was being very reasonable by contacting Tesco and explaining what had happened to me and asking if they would help put things right. I was surprised when I received a reply denying any responsibility for the food poisoning and decided the only way forward would be to take legal action.”
Lisa contacted law firm Slater and Gordon and a civil claim was issued against Tesco. The supermarket admitted liability in relation to the food poisoning on 8th August 2013 however they have not yet admitted this resulted in the loss of the embryos.
Lisa said “There is no way we can afford the £3,000 to have another round of IVF so I hope that Tesco will do the decent thing and pay for it for us. Time is not on our side so I hope something can be resolved as soon as possible before our dreams of having a family have gone for good.”
Slater and Gordon Personal Injury Solicitor Jane Cooper,who is representing Lisa, said “This has been a harrowing experience for Mrs Fessey and her partner. Their expectations of a pregnancy running to full term were cruelly destroyed by Tesco’s simple failure to follow straightforward food hygiene requirements. They can take some comfort though from Tesco’s final acceptance of their wrongdoing and we are now focused on getting them the best compensation settlement to allow them a chance of fulfilling their dream of having a child.”
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