Second Couple Sues in Scrambled Embryo Snafu

By (Tracy Connor)
Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane

An alleged fertility clinic foul-up that resulted in a woman giving birth to the biological sons of two other couples—and then having to give them up—has spawned a second lawsuit.

Los Angeles residents Anni and Ashot Manukyan said in court papers they were horrified to learn that a New York City stranger mistakenly received their embryo and the embryo of another couple, carried them for eight months, and then gave birth—believing they were her own babies.

While the Manukyans eventually won custody of one of the twins, they were “devastated that they never were able to experience the wonder of their son’s childbirth,” they said in the lawsuit filed against CHA Fertility on Wednesday.

“They never saw their baby’s entrance into the world or cuddled him in his first seconds of life—moments that other parents treasure for the rest of their lives.”

Couple Forced to Give Up Babies After Embryo Mixup, Lawsuit Says

Last week, the New York City woman and her husband also sued CHA Fertility, saying doctors there transferred the wrong embryos when they underwent in vitro fertilization last year.

The couple accused the clinic of covering up its mistake until the twins were born and it was clear they were not of Asian descent like their parents—and a DNA test confirmed they were not the biological parents.

In their lawsuit, filed in federal court in Brooklyn, the couple then described the heartbreak of losing custody of the newborns the wife had carried in her womb for eight months.

Now, one of the couples whose embryos ended up in the New York woman is also suing and accusing the clinic of misleading her and her husband, too.

The Manukyans also underwent IVF at CHA in 2018, and two frozen embryos they believed came from her eggs and his sperm were thawed and transferred to Anni.

They said they were crushed no pregnancy resulted and then confused when the clinic called eight months later and asked them to come back “under false pretenses” for a DNA swab.

“What Anni and Ashot discovered, much to their horror, was that their son had been stolen from them when he was still an embryo and implanted into a stranger that later became his birth mother,” according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court against CHA.

“Anni and Ashot did not know of their son’s existence until he was nearly two weeks old. From then, it took more than a month, including an expensive legal battle, to ensure that they would gain custody of their son and ultimately bring him home.”

“During those weeks of uncertainty, Anni and Ashot had zero assurance that they would ever even be able to meet their child.”

The Manukyans say they now realize the two embryos that were implanted in Anni by CHA could not have been their own since one was actually given to the New York woman—who unwittingly became their surrogate.

They said that while they eventually were reunited with their son, their joy at being parents was ruined.

“They cry every day. They continue to see mental-health professionals,” the lawsuit says. “They no longer trust anyone, and their guard is always up. Their ordeal has not ended; it is just beginning. This is something that they will live with for the rest of their lives.”

Lawsuit Claims Connecticut Fertility Clinic Gave Wrong Embryo to Couple Who Had Baby of Different Race

The New York couple, who filed their lawsuit against CHA anonymously, also had to give up the second twin boy—to biological parents who have not yet been identified. It’s unknown if they are taking legal action.

CHA declined to comment after the first lawsuit was filed, and could not be reached for comment on the Manukyans’ suit. The clinic has not filed a response to the allegations in either case.

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