An Asian-American couple gave birth to someone else’s babies after an in-vitro fertilization clinic implanted the wrong embryos in the woman’s womb – they were expecting twin girls and instead gave birth to twin boys that were not genetically related to her or her husband.
After struggling for years to conceive, the New York couple – identified in court papers only as Y.Z. and A.P. – sought the services of Los Angeles-based CHA Fertility Center, which bills itself as a “mecca of reproductive medicine,” according to the New York Post.
The couple forked out an estimated $100,000 in total to pay for in-vitro fertilization (IVF), a process in which the mother’s egg is combined with the father’s sperm outside the body, and the embryo is then transferred to the uterus.
The court papers say the couple “were ecstatic to learn that after years of trying to conceive, they had success and were pregnant with twins.”
The procedure was a success, but there were early signs in the pregnancy that something had gone awry. Ultrasound technicians told the mother-to-be that she was carrying twin boys – even though she had directed the CHA center to implant her with two female embryos.
Apparently none the wiser, the fertility clinic reassured the expecting parents that the sonograms were “not a definitive test” and that there was no reason for them to be alarmed.
But when the wife gave birth via a cesarean section in March, it was clear that something had, indeed, gone terribly wrong. Both babies were boys, and neither shared their parents’ Asian ethnicity. Subsequent tests showed that the newborns were not genetically related to couple – meaning that the woman who had waited for so long to have children of her own had given birth to someone else’s babies.
The lawsuit claims that the clinic knew about the mix-up but concealed it from the parents who were devastated upon giving birth to someone else’s babies in March.
According to CBS News, genetic testing confirmed that the two babies belonged to two different couples, and the Asian American parents were forced to give them to their biological parents. The parents don’t know what happened to their two female embryos that were to be implanted.
The lawsuit says it is an “unimaginable mishap” and holds the owners of the clinic, Dr. Joshua Berger and Simon Hong, responsible for the couple’s ordeal.
The suit says the owners of the clinic, Berger and Hong, kept telling them that the sonograms were “not a definitive test.”
They “assured [A.P. and Y.Z.] that they were having girls and that nothing was wrong,” according to the New York Post.
The babies were born on March 30, 2019, and neither one shared their parents’ ethnicity. Clinic staff, including Hong, traveled to New York to conduct genetic tests that confirmed the babies had different biological parents.
“The testing also confirmed that the two male babies were not genetically related to each other,” the couple said in the lawsuit, according to the New York Post.
Heartbroken and enraged, the unwitting surrogate mother and her husband have lawyered-up and are now suing the fertility clinic.
Seeking unspecified damages, court papers filed in Brooklyn, New York noted that the couple “may never know what happened to their embryos, as well as whether the currently cryo-preserved embryos are genetically matched to them.”
Jake Anderson, an IVF expert, told CBS News that human error is not uncommon in IVF clinics.
“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.
More than a million babies have been born in the United States through IVF and other related technologies, according to CBS.
“Have we become reckless and too careless with people’s most important genetic material and their future happiness?” Anderson told CBS News.