Embryo Mix-Up: California Parents Raising the Wrong Baby Sue Fertility Clinic

Photo: (Photo : JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)

A pair of California parents have filed a lawsuit against a fertility clinic in Los Angeles following an embryo mix-up that has changed their lives forever. The couple claimed that they have been raising the wrong baby for several months because of the fertility clinic's mistake.

Mom Daphna Cardinale had an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure with Dr. Eliran Mor of the California Center for Reproductive Health (CCRH) in 2019. She and her husband, Alexander Cardinale, entrusted their future to the fertility clinic as they tried for a second child. 

They were soon blessed with a baby girl. However, months after the baby's birth, Alexander noticed some peculiarity in his daughter's physical appearance because she had darker skin and jet-black hair.

"She looked to be of a different race, which made no sense in light of Daphna and Alexander's respective backgrounds," the lawsuit stated, per CNN.

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DNA Test Confirmed their Fears

The Cardinales took some DNA tests that confirmed their worst fears as it proved that their new daughter is not biologically related to them. Further probing revealed that there was indeed an embryo mix-up between the Cardinales and another couple, who has been raising Daphna or Alexander's biological child, also a girl.

Apparently, CCRH used a third-party laboratory, In VitroTech Labs, Inc., in the handling of the embryos. Per Daily Mail, In VitroTech Labs, Inc. and its parent company, Beverly Sunset Surgical Associates, are owned by Dr. Peyman Saadat, who was previously sued for mixing and losing the patients' sperm samples in 2016. Saadat is Mor's business partner.

It's unclear, however, if the fertility clinic had knowledge in implanting the wrong embryos. However,  the Cardinales' lawsuit stated that the doctors and their staff, including the laboratory, were reckless and negligent with their work.

Long-Term Effects of the Embryo Mix-Up

Daphna and Alexander were also crushed to learn that their biological daughter was with another family. In late 2019, the Cardinales met with the other couple, with their babies in tow, and planned on a swap. At this point, both babies were four months old and have bonded with their parents. The decision to switch children did not come lightly for both families.

The Cardinales claimed that the embryo mix-up took four months of their life away from their real child and they are also mourning the loss of the baby they raised as their own. Their lawyer reasoned that Daphna and the other mother "breastfed and bonded" with babies they were forced to "give away" because of someone else's mistake.

During the months of agonizing over the baby, Daphna told People that she and Alexander tried to convince each other that nothing was wrong. However, it was not easy to ignore how much different their baby's physical features stood out.

Daphna and Alexander also have a five-year-old daughter, Olivia, who has to cope with this unusual family situation as well. The family is suing for medical malpractice, fraud and negligence.

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