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New York Couples Suing Over In Vitro Fertilization Mix-Up Of Babies

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/CNN) - A couple from New York is suing a fertility clinic after a woman gave birth to other couples' babies because of an IVF mixup, according to a federal lawsuit filed in US District Court.

The case was as heartbreaking as it was terrible, reports CBS2's Dick Brennan.

Anni and Ashot Manukyan say they've been devastated by what they call an unimaginable mix-up by the CHA Fertility Center in Los Angeles involving three different couples.

"CHA put my family through a living hell, cannot sleep eat or focus, it was awful," said father Ashot.

The Manukyans say the fertility center transferred their embryo to another customer, a complete stranger, who then gave birth to Anni and Ashot's son, along with another couple's baby.

"The New York Korean-American (couple) expecting two girls, and they had two boys, and Anni and Ashot is Armenian," said Adam Wolf, the Manukyans' attorney.

The other couple, identified only as A.P. and Y.Z., live in Flushing, New York, and were married in 2012. After having trouble conceiving a child, they decided to try to have a child through in vitro fertilization, or IVF, with a company called CHA Fertility based out of Los Angeles, the lawsuit states.

A DNA test revealed the mistake and after six weeks, the Manukyan's finally got to see their son.

Now the couple is suing the center.

Anni and Ashot Manukyan Speak Out About IVF Case

"CHA robbed me of my ability to be with my own child, my baby boy to be with my child, to be with him in the first couple of moments of his life, to nurse him skin on skin contact," said mother Anni.

Fertility doctor and IVF expert Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg says a mix-up like this is extraordinary.

"Before an embryo can go back into a patient, the computerized records have to be reviewed by the medical director, myself, and the physician if there's another physician involved," said Steinberg. "The paper records have to be reviewed, signatures, have to be reviewed and then the entire staff gets together and questions the patient."

MORE: Lawsuit: Clinic Impregnated NY Woman With Wrong Embryo

CHA Fertility Center claimed on its website to be one of the "premier fertility treatment networks in the world," the lawsuit states.

The clinic says on its site that it has "fulfilled the dreams of tens of thousands of aspiring parents" in over 22 countries.

The lawsuit says that the couple spent more than $100,000 for the IVF services, including facility and doctors' fees, specialist services, medication, lab expenses, travel costs and more.

In early 2018, the company collected sperm and eggs from Y.Z. and A.P. and then formed five euploid embryos, four of which were female, the lawsuit says.

The first attempt at transferring an embryo to A.P. did not result in a pregnancy. They tried again and were "ecstatic" when they learned A.P. was pregnant with twins in September 2018, the lawsuit states.

However, a sonogram determined that the twins were both male. That "confused" the couple because there was only one male euploid embryo, which was not transferred to her, the lawsuit states.

They called the co-owners of the fertility clinic to ask about the issue, and were told that the sonograph results were not accurate and that this was not a definitive test, the lawsuit states. One even said that when his wife was pregnant, they were told they were going to have a boy but ultimately had a girl, the lawsuit states.

But A.P. gave birth to twin boys in March -- and neither baby was of Asian descent.

"Plaintiffs were shocked to see that the babies they were told were formed using both of their genetic material did not appear to be," the lawsuit states.

DNA testing found that the babies were not related to the couple, nor were they related to each other. In fact, each baby was genetically related to a couple that had also gone for treatment with CHA Fertility, the lawsuit says.

Because of that, A.P. and Y.Z. were required to give up custody of the babies to their genetic parents.

The couple still does not not know what happened to their two embryos that were supposed to be transferred to A.P., the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit, filed July 1, says the plaintiffs have suffered physical and emotional harm and accuses the defendants of medical malpractice, negligence and 14 other counts.

Further agonizing for the Manukyans, they say the fertility center never explained what happened to all of their embryos.

"Anni and Ashot have no idea if there's another baby in this world of theirs that they are unaware of right now," said Wolf.

Anni says her boy that she finally was united with is, in her words, a "perfect baby."

Attorneys for the clinic have not responded for request for comment.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report. All rights reserved.)

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