The mother of Los Angeles, Anni Manukyan, was shocked into hospital after being told, eight months after a failed IVF round, that she had a week-old son in New York.
Her doctor at CHA Fertility Center in Los Angeles, flanked by a psychologist, explained on April 12 that a Korean-American couple, including patients at CHA, had accidentally received one of the embryos Anni and her husband Ashot on ice.
The New York couple, together with another baby boy, had their son born prematurely on March 31, initially supposed to be twins, but later turned out to be the biological son of a third, unrelated couple whose embryo also was improperly implanted.
The confusion was quickly noticed because the boys were not Asian – and the Asian couple had expected girls, since their embryos were female – so CHA secretly called all patients for a DNA test in the form of a cheekbone, passed on as a & # 39; routine & # 39; annual data collection.
While Anni and Ashot were consuming this information – that a complete stranger had carried and delivered their son and had been with him for two weeks – the doctor reportedly said: “Don't worry, you'll probably get your son back. & # 39;
They soon discovered that the couple from New York, only identified as YZ and AP, were planning to fight for the boys' custody, leading to a week-long lawsuit that ended on Mother's Day weekend when Anni and Ashot met their son, they called Alec, for the first time in the lobby of a hotel.
Los Angeles, mother Anni (left), was hospitalized for two days as she fought to regain custody of her two-week-old son, who was born to another woman in New York after an IVF confusion
Alec, pictured with Ashot, finally returned to Los Angeles at the end of May after a six-week battle over his guardianship. He was born prematurely in March for a Korean-American couple who accidentally received his embryo
& # 39; I don't hear anyone, you know? & # 39; Anni said and remembered the moment when she found out.
& # 39; My brain suddenly started: I couldn't connect with my baby. I could not carry it, I could not hold it. I could not feel it in me. I was not there when he was born.
& # 39; Those first moments in life are the most precious, that's how the baby connects with the mother, you know?
& # 39; I don't understand how CHA did this to us, the most important thing in our lives.
& # 39; I am a strong person, but I have been hurt by these experiences in ways that hurt me every day. I hope nobody suffers because of what my family has been through. & # 39;
From the moment they learned about the scandal at the end of April, they tried to get hold of their son for weeks. They were not allowed to know anything about their son or the couple who raised him, and the fear drove Anni to the hospital with a stress-related illness.
Eventually they flew to New York and spent two weeks in family courts.
When the judge finally granted custody on 31 May, Anni physically collapsed.
Dr. Joshua Berger, the co-owner of the clinic (left), and Simon Hong (right), co-owner of the clinic, are mentioned in the lawsuit
Then they were allowed to meet Alec, and the Korean-American couple, to whom, Anni said, they are eternally grateful and sorry for.
& # 39; Who wants to meet their child in the lobby of a hotel? It was heartbreaking, it was terrible, & Anni said, weeping.
& # 39; I just pray to God that I have no other son or daughter there, & # 39; Anni said.
To the mother who carried her son, Anni said: & I pray for her every day. She was just as much a victim of it as I was. She is a sweet lady. She raised my baby in her and after he was born. & # 39;
The scandal came to light when the Korean-American couple, who only called themselves YZ and AP in a lawsuit they had brought against CHA last week, delivered two non-Asian boys to their hometown of New York.
They had spent $ 100,000 on fertility care and traveled to CHA Fertility Center, which they were assured was one of the best clinics in the country.
As was the case for all couples who embarked on a dazzlingly expensive fertility treatment, they were desperate. They were married in 2012 and had years of trouble getting pregnant before they turned to CHA in January 2018.
The couple was happy with Dr. Berger and Hong after their meeting. They started the months of treatments – hormones, vitamins, testing after the test – to get eight embryos, which is shy for the recommended 12, but an acceptable number.
Their care and travel was $ 100,000. The average cost of one IVF cycle is $ 12,000 plus up to $ 3,000 for the medication, although research shows that couples rarely release sufficient embryos on the first attempt.
Their first attempt at implantation in July 2018 failed. In August, the couple decided to try again and thawed two of their female embryos. And it was a success: they were pregnant with twins in September.
According to court records, the pair was & # 39; confused & # 39; when sonograms showed twin boys, because they had fertilized only female embryos.
Berger and Hong tried to reassure the couple and said that ultrasounds & # 39; no definitive test & # 39; goods.
The lawsuit says the couple was the victim of an & # 39; unimaginable accident & # 39; – so much so that they & # 39; the courage and the way to tell others about their devastating loss & # 39; could not find.
The trial has left AP and YZ with & # 39; permanent emotional injuries from which they will not recover & # 39 ;, said the lawsuit. They may & # 39; never know what happened to their & # 39; s embryos, nor will they know if the currently cryopreserved embryos & # 39; s are genetically matched & # 39 ;, is in the papers. They are looking for unspecified compensation.
The clinic does not comment, and the third pair has not spoken.
CHA refuses to comment on what happened, although they confirmed that all couples were confirmed in the clinic on August 20, 2018 for their implantation.
Ashot said: & # 39; CHA has lived three families through hell and our lives will never be the same again. We fought to get our boy back, and now we will fight to ensure that this never happens again. & # 39;
Anni said she had never had any problems bonding with her son, but she said: & # 39; I will never be the same person again. & # 39;
& # 39; I now have trust issues, I have barriers everywhere, & # 39; Anni said. Add that they & # 39; just not done & # 39; is to consider whether she has another child.
& # 39; We are only trying to bind with our baby. & # 39;
Their lawyer Adam Wolf, from Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane, said: & This incredible series of events demonstrates CHA & # 39; s shocking incompetence. Although I have treated hundreds of cases of misconduct at the center, this tragedy at CHA is one of the most flagrant I have seen.
& # 39; Anni and Ashot put all their faith in CHA. In return, CHA gave Anni and Ashot lies, apologies, and heartache. We do not rest until this multinational company is held responsible. & # 39;
He added: & # 39; It is reasonable to assume that there are many more fertility clinic clinics than we know. & # 39;
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