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Couple says wrong embryos implanted by IVF clinic in "unimaginable mishap"

Couple sues IVF clinic for embryo mix-up
Couple sues IVF clinic for allegedly implanting wrong embryos 03:29

A recently filed lawsuit claims a New York couple gave birth to other peoples' children, after a fertility clinic impregnated them with the wrong embryos. The couple had been expecting female twins, but instead gave birth to two male babies — who they then had to give up to their biological parents.

The couple alleges CHA Fertility Clinic knew about the embryo mix-up and tried to conceal it. On the clinic's website, it claims to have "fulfilled the dreams of tens of thousands of aspiring parents" in more than 22 countries. This couple says it shattered theirs.

After spending more than $100,000 on in vitro fertilization services to become pregnant, an unidentified New York couple say they finally succeeded. But when they gave birth in March, the Asian-American parents claim they were "shocked" to find neither baby was of Asian descent.

The lawsuit claims genetic testing confirmed the babies belonged to two other couples, forcing them to give the babies up to their biological parents. They still don't know what happened to their two embryos that should have been implanted. The lawsuit names co-owners of CHA Fertility Center, Dr. Joshua Berger and Simon Hong, as responsible for the "unimaginable mishap."

Human error, however, is not uncommon at IVF facilities, according to FertilityIQ co-founder Jake Anderson.

"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," Anderson said.

More than one million babies have been born in the U.S. through IVF or similar technologies. But Anderson says recent headlines about clinics destroying or mixing up embryos raise valid questions about the painstaking process.

"Have we become reckless and too careless with people's most important genetic material and their future happiness?" Anderson said.

In 2009, Carolyn and Sean Savage experienced similar loss upon learning the baby they had just conceived through IVF was not 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.

The Savages carried the baby to term, before giving him to his biological parents. They say hearing the news of another IVF mix-up was heartbreaking.

"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."

The couple in this latest lawsuit accuses the fertility clinic of medical malpractice, negligence, and 14 other counts. The lawsuit also says the couple has suffered significant emotional distress.

A lawyer for CHA Fertility clinic declined to comment.

In a statement to CBS News, a lawyer representing the unidentified couple said they "sustained traumatic emotional injuries and financial losses" and that they are filing the lawsuit both for compensation and "to ensure that this tragedy never happens again."

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