Impregnating the wrong woman in a fertility clinic is literally the inciting plot point of Jane the Virgin. But it's also what happened to one New York couple in real life. A recent lawsuit claims that a New York couple gave birth to other people's children after a fertility clinic implanted the wrong embryos.
Can you even imagine? When did they realize what happened? I have so many questions. According to CBS News, the couple had been expecting female twins. But instead, they gave birth to two male babies who they then had to give up to their biological parents. I am aghast.
That woman spent nine months pregnant with someone else's babies and then had to go through the entire birthing process, only to be required to give up those babies. It's insane.
The couple says that the CHA Fertility Clinic knew they had mixed up the embryos and tried to hide it. The couple had spent more than $100,000 on IVF services to be able to become pregnant. They were ecstatic when the process finally succeeded.
"But when they gave birth in March," CBS News writes, "the Asian-American parents claim they were 'shocked' to find neither baby was of Asian descent."
The lawsuit claims that genetic testing confirmed the babies belonged to two other couples, which forced them to give the babies up to their biological parents. I cannot imagine being the parents who were ecstatic to be pregnant after all that time and effort, only to give birth to babies that weren't theirs, but I also cannot imagine being the parents whose embryos were implanted in a stranger, and whose babies were birthed by someone else without my knowledge.
Out of the blue, they were handed their own baby, not knowing that someone else had been pregnant with him for nine months before. And the couple has no idea what happened to their two embryos.
The embyro mix-up is referred in the lawsuit as an "unimaginable mishap," and it is, but according to expert Jake Anderson, this sort of human error is not that uncommon in IVF facilities.
"It's this agonizing process to grow embryos. And it involves almost over 200 different steps and when you assume this happens to thousands of patients every year within that laboratory, all of a sudden you've got a lot of moving parts," he told CBS News.
You would think that with a process this complicated and sensitive, every step would be excruciatingly detailed and checked. But when humans are involved, there will be errors. It is sort of inevitable.
According to CBS News, more than one million babies have been born in the U.S. through IVF or other similar processes. That's a lot of people's embryos that have been subject to egregious error. "Have we become reckless and too careless with people's most important genetic material and their future happiness?" Anderson asks.
It sort of seems like we have. This lawsuit isn't the first incident of something going terribly wrong at a fertility clinic. In 2009, Carolyn and Sean Savage conceived a child through IVF that they then learned wasn't theirs. "You're so excited, and you feel like, 'finally,' and then to have the rug pulled out from under you in this kind of manner is — it's so painful," Carolyn said. Uh, yeah. To say the least.
Carolyn had to carry the baby to term and then give him up to his biological parents. That experience has to be beyond harrowing. Pregnancy is no small thing to do to a human body.
"I cannot express how utterly unacceptable this situation is," Carolyn said. "It is preventable, protocols need to be followed, and they need to be taken seriously."
Obviously, the Savages and the couple involved in the lawsuit experienced unthinkable emotional distress because of the situation. Any process as complicated as IVF, any process as prone to error, should be rigorously regulated, checked and rechecked over and over again. I honestly can't think of an amount of money that would make up for the hell these people were put through.
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