Couple sues New York fertility clinic, alleging it implanted a stranger’s embryo

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After several unsuccessful attempts to conceive a baby through in vitro fertilization, a Massachusetts couple learned last year that they were expecting a baby girl, court records show.

Months in the pregnancy, their obstetrician recommended that the mother undergo genetic testing to rule out abnormalities. The baby was okay, court records say, but the test results revealed something the couple never saw coming: There was a zero percent chance the couple — identified only as Jane and John Doe — were the biological parents. .

Specialists at the New York Fertility Institute, which paid for the IVF procedure, repeatedly assured the couple that the test was not a problem and that they were in fact the biological parents, court records said.

The doctors reportedly first claimed the test was inaccurate before diagnosing the mother with a rare condition, saying her body contained two sets of DNA.

But the parents were concerned that the test was accurate – that they were not the parents and that the clinic had transferred a stranger’s embryo into the woman’s womb. Fearing the emotional toll of a potential custody battle once the baby was born, the couple opted to terminate the six-month pregnancy days before it would have been illegal to do so, according to court records.

Now the couple is suing the New York Fertility Institute, embryologist Michael Femi Obasaju, and fertility specialists Khalid Sultan and Majid Fateh for allegedly impregnating the expectant mother with a stranger’s embryo. They also accuse the clinic of losing Jane Doe’s embryos and not disclosing whether they were implanted into a stranger, potentially giving away their biological child, according to a lawsuit filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

An attorney for the couple did not respond to messages from The Washington Post. The New York Fertility Clinic, Obasaju, Sultan and Fateh also did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Court records do not list attorneys for any of the defendants.

In the lawsuit, the couple also alleges that the clinic and all three doctors deliberately covered up that Obasaju “has a history of wrongly implanting a stranger’s embryo into the wrong patient.”

“Each of these errors caused Mr. and Ms. Doe unfathomable physical and emotional pain and suffering and ultimately, when the errors were discovered, resulted in a termination of Ms. Doe’s pregnancy,” the lawsuit states.

A fertility center mixed up two couples’ embryos, the lawsuit alleges. When they found out, they had to switch babies.

According to the lawsuit, the couple — who met in 2010 and dreamed of raising four children — consulted with several fertility specialists to try to find what would be their fourth and last baby. They had their first consultation with Fateh on 28 April 2020.

In that visit, court records state, Fateh told the couple that the fertility clinic was “not a factory” and assured them that “he would oversee every aspect of the process for them.”

The woman underwent three egg retrievals at the clinic between October 2020 and April 2021, court records state.

On July 7, 2021, Sultan implanted what was supposed to be the couple’s embryo into the woman’s uterus during a visit to the clinic, court records state. The following month, the couple confirmed they were expecting a baby. The pregnancy progressed normally — then the couple’s obstetrician asked for the genetic tests that later revealed their DNA did not match that of the fetus, court records state.

When the woman inquired about the results, Sultan allegedly assured her that it was a “lab error” and said “she should not worry.” About a month later, when the woman had a second genetic test that revealed same results, Sultan said the clinic didn’t transfer the wrong embryo because she was “the only implant that whole week,” according to the lawsuit.

In October, the couple visited a genetic counselor who suggested additional DNA testing. The result again said they were not the parents, court records state.

Sultan and Fateh assured the woman that she was carrying her “own child,” according to the lawsuit. Sultan also told the woman the test results were likely due to a rare condition called mosaicism, where a person can have two sets of DNA in their body, court records said. In that call, Sultan allegedly told her that he had “never heard of [mosaicism] before,” adding that “even for him – a doctor – it was a complex situation and very difficult to understand.” He also said that the priority for the woman was to have a healthy baby and that ” it would be an interesting research paper to write,” the lawsuit states.

The couple then hired an independent embryologist as the legal termination date for a pregnancy – six months – was approaching. The independent embryologist tried to meet with the doctors but the clinic did not allow Obasaju, the clinic’s embryologist, to meet with them or provide the evidence confirming that the embryo transferred that summer was indeed the couple’s, court records state.

On December 1, 2021 – near the end of the woman’s second trimester – the couple had an abortion.

“Defendants’ misconduct robbed Ms. Doe of the ability to carry her own child,” the lawsuit states. “Mrs. Doe and Mr. Doe are haunted by questions about what happened to their embryos. They had to worry about whether their embryos had been transferred to another unknowing couple, or whether they had another child or children in the world they had never met?”

The state health department is now investigating the New York Fertility Institute and “views these most recent allegations … with the greatest concern,” a spokesperson told the New York Post.

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