February 20, 2024

Embryo mix-up mother wins US$1 million

A San Francisco IVF clinic has settled out of court for US$1 million after implanting the wrong embryo in a 48-year-old single woman four years ago and then trying to keep it a secret. Susan Buchweitz only discovered the mistake when her child was 10 months old, although the doctor, Steven L. Katz, had been told almost immediately by the embryologist, Imam El-Danasouri.

Four years later Ms Buchweitz is embroiled in a mare’s nest of lawsuits. She sued both the doctor and the embryologist and the couple who provided the embryo sued her for custody of the child. The unnamed woman bore a daughter at the same time who is her son’s biological sister. Ms Buchweitz only has temporary custody of her child pending a court case later this year. The biological father has visiting rights two days a week.

The affair brought to light serious irregularities in the clinic. Dr Katz sent Ms Buchweitz and her insurance company a bill for US$23,000 even though he knew about the error. He also told his staff to keep quiet about the incident. The state medical board is now seeking to revoke or suspend his licence for engaging in “dishonest and corrupt acts”. The embryologist did not have a licence to run a tissue clinic and had trained as a veterinarian, not a medical doctor.