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IVF mix-up: Women discover they gave birth to each other's babies

Daphna and Alexander Cardinale raised another couple's baby for three months before swapping back. They are now filing a lawsuit against the fertility clinic.

IVF mix-up: Women discover they gave birth to each other's babies
Image Source: alexainthemorning / Facebook

A fertility clinic in California is being sued after two couples realized they had given birth to each other's babies. The couples spent months raising children who were not theirs following the in vitro fertilization mix-up. They have since swapped infants, but the incident has left the families with enduring trauma. The California Center for Reproductive Health (CCRH), based in Los Angeles, and its owner Dr. Eliran Mor have thus been accused of medical malpractice, breach of contract, negligence, and fraud by the Cardinales, one of the couples involved in the mix-up. The second couple, who wish to remain anonymous, plans to file a similar lawsuit in the coming days, The Guardian reports.



 

"I was overwhelmed by feelings of fear, betrayal, anger, and heartbreak," Daphna Cardinale stated at a news conference with her husband Alexander announcing the lawsuit. "I was robbed of the ability to carry my own child. I never had the opportunity to grow and bond with her during pregnancy, to feel her kick." According to the mother, she and her husband had immediate suspicions that the girl she gave birth to in late 2019 was not theirs owing to the infant's darker complexion. However, they suppressed their doubts.



 

The couple fell in love with the baby and placed their trust in the in vitro fertilization process and their doctors, Daphna explained. She noted that learning several months later that she had been pregnant with another couple’s baby and that another woman had been carrying her child had caused her to suffer enduring trauma. Daphna added that breaking the news to their older daughter, now aged seven, that doctors made a mistake and that the baby was not actually her sister "was the hardest thing in [her] life." She said, "My heart breaks for her, perhaps the most." Meanwhile, Yvonne Telles, the office administrator for the center, declined to comment on the incident. Similarly, Mor could not be reached for comment.



 

The lawsuit alleges that the fertility clinic implanted the other couple’s embryo into Daphna and transferred the Cardinales’ embryo—made from Daphna’s egg and Alexander’s sperm—into the other woman. Both babies were born in September 2019, and unaware, both couples raised the infants for nearly three months before DNA tests confirmed that the embryos were swapped. The babies were swapped back in January last year. The complaint reads, "The Cardinales, including their young daughter, fell in love with this child, and were terrified she would be taken away from them. All the while, Alexander and Daphna did not know the whereabouts of their own embryo, and thus were terrified that another woman had been pregnant with their child—and their child was out in the world somewhere without them."



 

Mix-ups like this one are incredibly rare—but not unprecedented. In another case in 2019, a couple from Glendale, California, sued a separate fertility clinic on claims that their embryo was mistakenly implanted in a woman from New York, who gave birth to their son as well as a second boy belonging to another couple. Therefore, attorney Adam Wolf, who represents all four parents, called on greater oversight for IVF clinics. He affirmed, "This case highlights an industry in desperate need of federal regulation." As a result of the mix-up, the two couples have made an effort to stay in each others’ lives and "forge a larger family," Daphna shared. Alexander noted, "They were just as much in love with our biological daughter as we were with theirs." The second couple plans to file a similar lawsuit in the coming days.



 

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