A family in Salt Lake City, Utah, has discovered that one of their sons, now 13 years old, is not biologically related to his dad because he had a different father in a confusing IVF mix-up.
In 2019, Donna and Vanner Johnson took an at-home DNA test with their two boys "just for fun." In an interview with This Morning, the couple said they were curious about their sons' genes, so they got the kits.
However, when the Johnsons received the test results, their youngest son, Tim, did not have a match with his father. Instead, the DNA test showed the word "unknown" under his matching for his dad.
Initially, the Johnsons thought that there was some problem with home kits. When Donna took another look at the results and saw that her youngest son had a half-brother, Vanner Jr., through his mother, that's when she realized that the mistake happened at the IVF clinic more than 13 years ago.
Early on, Donna and Vanner saw how much different their sons were as young kids, but it never occurred to them to question if Tim was indeed their son despite the details of his conception as an IVF baby.
Why She Went for IVF
Following the birth of her firstborn, Donna was still determined to have another child, but Vanner Sr. had three hernia surgeries by then, so conception wasn't going to work without any medical help. Donna and Vanner consulted about IVF with the University of Utah Center for Reproductive Medicine in 2007, and then they had Tim.
Realizing that a different sperm was used on Donna's IVF procedure, the couple was lost on what to do next. In an interview with Today, Vanner said that they decided to tell Tim first before anything, so, as the dad, he took it upon himself to break the news.
The father took his son out for ice cream to reveal the results of his DNA test. Tim has always known that he was conceived through IVF because his parents have had conversations about this before. Vanner then told his son that the DNA test indicated that there might have been an IVF mix-up.
"It turns out that I am not your biological father," Vanner told Tim. His son reacted by saying that regardless of what happened, he's still his father.
For the next few weeks, the parents kept talking to Tim about the DNA result. When they told his older brother, Vanner Jr. reacted similarly to Tim and said that the DNA test does not matter because they are still brothers.
Finding Tim's Biological Dad
The Johnsons waited for Tim to decide on whether they should look for his biological dad. Once he was ready, they took more DNA tests to find family members linked to Tim. Donna recalled that they did some sleuthing at the Ancestry.com database, which eventually led them to Devin and Kelly McNeil from Colorado, who also had an IVF procedure in the same clinic around 2007. Apparently, Kelly was undergoing a transfer procedure while Donna was in a retrieval procedure on the same day they visited the clinic.
Amid this confusing time, both families have supported each other and formed a close bond. The McNeils' other kids have also accepted their situation and their half-brother, Tim.
Meanwhile, the families have filed two separate lawsuits against the clinic. The University of Utah Center for Reproductive Medicine released a statement stating that they cannot comment on ongoing litigation, but their primary concern is the safety and care of their patients.
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