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A California couple is suing a fertility clinic after the wrong embryo was implanted and they gave birth to a child that biologically isn't theirs.
Daphna and Alexander Cardinale began in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment at the California Centre for Reproductive Health in 2018, successfully falling pregnant in 2019.
However, according to the lawsuit, despite giving birth to the child, the infant physically didn't look like either parent, leading to questions over whether the child genetically belonged to them.
IVF is a procedure where eggs are fertilised by sperm in a lab before being implanted in a woman’s uterus.
Lab had reputation for mixing up genetic material
Convinced there was a mix-up at the clinic, the parents bought a home DNA test, which showed the baby wasn't theirs.
A further test confirmed this.
“I had no idea at the time that this greatest potential for joy would bring us such enduring pain and trauma,” Ms Cardinale said in a press conference.
The Cardinale’s attorney states the switch-up happened when their doctor and health director of the CCRH, Dr Eliran Mor, “outsourced” their embryo to a different embryology lab, VitroTech, which is also owned by Dr Mor.
According to the Cardinale's, the lab allegedly has a history of mixing up, mislabelling, and/or losing customers’ genetic material.
The Cardinales are suing the IVF centre, the lab and the lab’s parent company, Beverly Sunset Surgical Associates, LLC for breach of contract, medical malpractice, negligence, conversion, fraudulent concealment, violation of unfair competition law, negligent infliction of emotional distress, battery, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and violation of California Penal Code 367g, which is to implant a woman with sperm without her knowledge.
"We missed everything," Ms Cardinale said in a video posted by law firm, Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway.
"We missed the whole newborn phase with her, the whole pregnancy. I was losing a baby at the same time that I was getting a baby."
Couples switch babies back
The Carindales met with the family that had given birth to their biological daughter, and after several meetups, the families decided to permanently switch the children, according to the lawsuit.
However, both families are traumatised by what happened.
“Instead of breastfeeding my own child, I breastfed and bonded with a child I was later forced to give away,” Ms Cardinale said.
According to the couple, one of the hardest things about the tragic mix-up was telling their five-year-old daughter, who is suffering ongoing mental issues because of it.
"To have to explain to a five-year-old that the sister that they've imprinted on and love is not their sister has been traumatic," Mr Cardinale explained.
"She retreated from us, she doesn't let us hug or kiss her anymore."
According to The Kansas City Star, the families have decided to remain in contact with each other and plan to celebrate holidays together.
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