It sounds like the making of a Netflix original series. Two families. Two babies. One major IVF mistake. But this actually happened.
Two couples in America spend four months raising the wrong babies after a Los Angeles fertility clinic implanted the mothers with each other’s embryos during in-vitro fertilization.
Both couples and their families are obviously devastated that this could happen and are still coming to terms with what this means for them and their baby girls.
How did this even happen?
In September 2019 Daphna Cardinale and her husband, Alexander welcomed a little girl, born via IVF. Just one week later, another couple, who wish to remain anonymous, also welcomed a daughter.
When Daphna and Alexander’s daughter was born, they did notice that her skin was darker than their own.
I had a weird, sort of a gut reaction when she was born. It wasn’t anything logical. It was just like an instinct,” Alexander said during a news conference, CBS News reported.
Alexander and Daphna already had a daughter, now seven, so they assumed their new baby would have a similar complexion to her big sister.
Four months to bond
Daphna and Alexnder took their new baby girl home and raised her as their own daughter. She was breastfed and bonded with her family, Meanwhile, their biological daughter was with another couple, unbeknownst to anyone.
Three months later, DNA testing proved that Alexander’s gut instinct was right.
The California Center for Reproductive Health had mistakenly implanted the wrong embryo into Daphna and transferred her embryo into another woman.
All the while, Alexander and Daphna did not know the whereabouts of their own embryo and thus were terrified that another woman had been pregnant with their child — and their child was out in the world somewhere without them.”
Biological children swapped
In January 2020, Alexander and Daphna were given their birth daughter and the baby they thought was theirs was given back to her biological parents, a swap that is heartbreaking to even think about.
As we can imagine, Alexander and Daphna as well as the other couple are still devastated. This is a baby that Daphna not only cared for, but also grew inside her, that she gave birth to, breastfed and bonded with.
Daphna told reporters that she “poured more love” into the little baby when she found out she wasn’t her biological child.
Maybe I was just clinging to her. I was just so scared I was going to lose her, which I ultimately did. Instead of breastfeeding my own child, I breastfed and bonded with a child I was later forced to give away.”
Daphna also revealed that the hardest part of the entire ordeal was telling her older daughter, then seven, that her baby sister wasn’t actually related to her at all.
It was the hardest thing in my life – my heart breaks for her, perhaps the most.”
‘Switch is to blame’
Daphna and Alexander still periodically see the baby girl they raised for the first four months of her life. The four parents are hoping to “forge a larger family” so that they can remain in touch.
However, the little one no longer warms up to Daphna during these visits.
In fact, since the switch, Daphna and Alexander have watched their birth daughter morph from an incredibly happy newborn to an anxious baby — and they worry and feel constant guilt that the ‘switch’ is to blame … This is one of the biggest things that haunts Daphna on a regular basis.”
Couples file lawsuit against IVF clinic
Recently Alexander and Daphna, plus the other couple have announced the intention to file a lawsuit against the California Centre for Reproductive Health, and as well as a third-party embryology lab, for alleged misconduct, including medical malpractice and negligence.
According to attorney Adam Wolf, who represents all four parents,
When the truth came to light, it made exchanging the children all the more heartbreaking. Losing the birth child you know, for the genetic child that you don’t know yet. A truly impossible nightmare that inflicted trauma that will affect my family and me for the rest of our lives.”
The four parents have all admitted to suffering from PTSD, anxiety, depression, and feelings of guilt over the heartbreaking IVF mistake.
They were just as much in love with our biological daughter as we were with theirs. We can’t sleep at night knowing that this is happening and no one’s… talking about it.”