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 state.
Specialists at the New York Fertility Institute, which they had 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 state.
The doctors first allegedly claimed the test was inaccurate before diagnosing the mother with a rare condition, saying her body contained two sets of DNA.
But the parents worried the test was accurate — that they weren’t the parents and that the clinic had transferred a stranger’s embryo into the woman’s uterus. Fearing the emotional toll of a potential custody battle once the baby was born, the couple chose 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 mother-to-be with a stranger’s embryo. They also accuse the clinic of losing Jane Doe’s embryos and failing to disclose whether those were implanted into a stranger, potentially giving away their biological child, according to a lawsuit filed last month in the U.S. Southern District Court 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 several requests seeking comment. Court records do not list attorneys for any of the defendants.
In the lawsuit, the couple also alleges the clinic and all three doctors purposefully covered up that Obasaju “has a history of mistakenly implanting a stranger’s embryo into the wrong patient.”
“Each of these errors have caused Mr. and Ms. Doe incomprehensible physical and emotional pain and suffering and, ultimately, when the errors were discovered, led to a termination of Ms. Doe’s pregnancy,” the lawsuit states.
A fertility center mixed up two couples’ embryos, lawsuit says. When they found out, they had to trade 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 have what would be their fourth and last baby. They had their first consultation with Fateh on April 28, 2020.
In that visit, court records state, Fateh told the couple that the fertility clinic “is 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 it was a “lab error” and said “she shouldn’t be concerned.” About a month later, when the woman had a second genetic test that revealed the same results, Sultan stated that the clinic did not transfer the wrong embryo because she “was the only implant that entire week,” according to the lawsuit.
In October, the couple visited a genetic counselor who suggested additional DNA tests. The result again said they were not the parents, court records state.
Sultan and Fateh assured the woman she was carrying her “own child,” according to the lawsuit. Sultan also told the woman the test results were probably due to a rare condition called mosaicism, where a person can have two sets of DNA in their body, court records state. In that call, Sultan allegedly told her that he had “never heard of [mosaicism] before,” adding that “even for him — a doctor — this was a complex situation and very hard to understand.” He also said that the priority was for the woman to have a healthy baby and that “this will 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 sought to meet with the doctors, but the clinic did not allow Obasaju, the clinic’s embryologist, to meet with them nor provide the evidence confirming the embryo transferred that summer was indeed the couple’s, court records state.
On Dec. 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. “Ms. Doe and Mr. Doe are haunted by questions about what became of their embryos. They have needed to worry about whether their embryos were transferred to another unwitting couple, and whether they have another child or children out in the world whom they have never met?”
The state health department is now investigating the New York Fertility Institute and “views these most recent allegations … with the utmost concern,” a spokesman told the New York Post.