California parents are suing after getting another couple’s embryos

LOS ANGELES – Two California couples gave birth to each other’s babies after a confusion at a fertility clinic and spent months raising children who were not theirs before exchanging infants, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles.

Daphna Cardinale said she and her husband, Alexander, had an immediate suspicion that the girl she gave birth to in late 2019 was not theirs because the baby had a darker complexion than they have.

They suppressed their doubts because they fell in love with the baby and trusted the in vitro fertilization process and their doctors, Daphna said. Getting to know months later that she had been pregnant with another couple’s baby and that another woman had carried her baby caused lasting trauma, she said.

“I was overwhelmed with feelings of fear, betrayal, anger and heartache,” Daphna said during a news conference with her husband, who announced the trial. “I was deprived of the ability to carry my own baby. I have never had the opportunity to grow and bond with her during pregnancy, to feel her kicks.”

Cardinales’ complaint accuses the Los Angeles-based California Center for Reproductive Health (CCRH) and its owner, Dr. Eliran Mother, for medical malpractice, breach of contract, negligence and fraud. It requires a jury trial and requires unspecified compensation.

Yvonne Telles, the office administrator for the center, declined to comment Monday. Mother could not be reached for comment.

The two other parents involved in the alleged mix-up want to remain anonymous and are planning a similar trial in the coming days, according to attorney Adam Wolf, who represents all four parents.

The lawsuit alleges that CCRH mistakenly implanted the other couple’s embryo in Daphna and transferred Cardinales’ embryo – made from Daphna’s eggs and Alexander’s semen – to the other woman.

The babies, both girls, were born at one-week intervals in September 2019. Both couples inadvertently raised the wrong baby for nearly three months before DNA tests confirmed the embryos were swapped, according to the archive.

“The Cardinales, including their young daughter, fell in love with this child and were afraid she would be taken from them,” the complaint reads. “All the while, Alexander and Daphna did not know where their own embryos were, and were therefore afraid that another woman had been pregnant with their child – and their child was out in the world somewhere without them.”

The babies were exchanged back in January 2020.

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