New York City: A U.S. couple is suing a fertility clinic where they allege employees botched a fertilization procedure, leading to the mother giving birth to other people’s children.
The lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of New York last week, stated the Asian couple was “shocked” in March at the births of two babies who didn’t appear to be of Asian descent, according to several media reports.
The couple — who are only identified as A.P. and Y.Z. to minimize “embarrassment and humiliation” – promptly gave up custody of the twins after DNA tests confirmed they weren’t related to the couple, the lawsuit states.
According to the suit, the twins, who themselves weren’t related to each other, were then each given to their biological parents.
On the website of the CHA Fertility Clinic in Los Angeles, it claimed it had “fulfilled the dreams of tens of thousands of aspiring parents” in more than 22 countries. But the couple said the clinic shattered their dreams.
Before the alleged mix-up, the couple said they’d spent years trying to get pregnant and spent close to $131,000 on in-vitro fertilization (or IVF), travel, medication and laboratory fees.
IVF is a medical procedure involving fertilizing a woman’s egg outside of her body before it’s implanted back into her womb to develop.
Dr. Joshua Berger and Simon Hong, identified in the lawsuit as clinic co-owners, are being sued for medical malpractice, fraudulent concealment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The lawsuit alleged the men are responsible for the “unimaginable mishap.” According to the lawsuit, the couple doesn’t know what happened to their own embryos and believe they “were never thawed and/or lost or destroyed by defendants”.
Last September, the couple felt “ecstatic” when they were told they’d be expecting twin girls. During the pregnancy, they were also told the babies were “formed using both of their genetic material.”
But one of the first signs of an issue came when sonograms showed the mother was actually carrying twin boys, the lawsuit states. However, Berger and Hong allegedly told the couple not to worry because “it was not a definitive test.”
Lawyers for the couple told reporters that the goal in “filing this lawsuit is to obtain compensation for our clients’ losses, as well as to ensure that this tragedy never happens again.”
Jake Anderson, co-founder of Fertility IQ — which compiles information on fertilization for parents and doctors — said cases such as this one call into question the rigorousness of certain IVF facilities.
“Have we become reckless and too careless with people’s most important genetic material and their future happiness?” he told reporters, while also acknowledging that human error is not uncommon.
“It’s this agonizing process to grow embryos. And it involves almost over 200 different steps and when you assume this happens to thousands of patients every year within that laboratory, all of a sudden you’ve got a lot of moving parts,” Anderson said.