Two California couples gave birth to each others’ babies after a mix-up at a fertility clinic in 2019.
Both of them are suing Los Angeles-based California Center for Reproductive Health (CCRH) and its owner, Dr. Eliran Mor for damages.
According to a lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles by Daphna and her husband Alexander Cardinale, the child was born with much darker hair and complexion than her parent. They trusted the IVF clinic but their suspicions grew.
Eventually they got a DNA test which showed that the child must have belonged to another couple.
Daphna told a news conference organised by Adam Wolf, a lawyer specialising in fertility cases, that she was distraught that she had carried another couple’s baby for nine months and had missed months of bonding with their own child. The babies were swapped back in January 2020.
“I was overwhelmed by feelings of fear, betrayal, anger and heartbreak,” Daphna said. “I was robbed of the ability to carry my own child. I never had the opportunity to grow and bond with her during pregnancy, to feel her kick.”
Mr Wolf is also representing the other couple, who preferred to remain anonymous. They are also planning to sue.
“The Cardinales, including their young daughter, fell in love with this child, and were terrified she would be taken away from them,” the complaint says. “All the while, Alexander and Daphna did not know the whereabouts of their own embryo, and thus were terrified that another woman had been pregnant with their child — and their child was out in the world somewhere without them.”
The babies were swapped back in January 2020.
Mix-ups like this are rare, although it is impossible to know how often it happens. Parents normally discover the error when the children look very different. If they don’t they are unlikely to check the parentage. In 2019 a couple from Glendale, California, sued a separate fertility clinic, claiming their embryo had been mistakenly implanted in a New York woman, who gave birth to their son as well as a second boy belonging to another couple.
Fertility mishaps must be big business. Mr Wolf’s firm, Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway has offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cleveland, St. Louis, Austin, and New Orleans. In addition to handling numerous fertility fraud cases, Peiffer Wolf has handled a multitude of cases in which medical professionals and facilities were accused of either destroying or losing eggs, embryos, and other genetic material.