If you’ve been through IVF (or you know someone who has) you’ll understand the huge toll it takes on your physical and mental health.

Imagine the joy at finally falling pregnant. Yet you later discover, due to an IVF mix-up, you’ve given birth to someone else’s babies. It’s just a heartbreaking scenario.

IVF is an incredibly expensive, emotional and lengthy process. In many cases the chance of success is low, making it an anxiety-ridden ride from the very start. To hear the news that it’s a success would be overwhelming and exhilarating, all at the same time. You’d feel like the luckiest person in the world.

So, of course, you can imagine the shock and disbelief when a poor couple from New York gave birth to their babies but later find out they belonged to someone else.

IVF mix-up leads to lawsuit

After a long regime of medicines, vitamins, tests and clinical procedures (not to mention a hefty spend of $100,000) – the couple manage to produce eight embryos.

The first attempt to have one of the embryos implanted fails. So the couple thaws two female embryos in readiness for a second attempt.

A month later they discover they’re pregnant. Understandably they are over the moon.

According to reports, the pair “were ecstatic to learn that after years of trying to conceive, they had success and were pregnant with twins.”

Of course, it’s not until their ultrasound that the hint of an IVF mix-up comes to light. The couple is told by one of the technicians they’re carrying twin boys, despite supposedly having female embryos implanted.

They share their confusion with the clinic owners, only to have their concerns dismissed. In fact, at this point, they’re reassured by doctors that they are having twin girls and are told there’s nothing to worry about.

In spite of their apprehension, they do what must of us would do in the same circumstance – they trust the advice of their doctor.

IVF mix-up ultrasound scan of twins

Birth sheds new light on the IVF mix-up

On March 30, 2019, the couple’s babies are born via caesarian section at a New York hospital. But what really should have been the most precious day of their lives turns into possibly the saddest.

The babies are male and neither share the parent’s Asian ethnicity!

The story is even more heartbreaking as the twin boys are taken away for genetic testing, which later confirms the newborns are not related to the couple.

What’s more, the two babies are not even related to each other.

twin babies

An unbelievable mix-up

In light of the findings, the couple is forced to give up their babies – each going to its respective biological parent.

It’s almost inconceivable to imagine how the couple must feel at this point. From the initial feeling of sheer joy at the discovery of their pregnancy to complete heartbreak having to give up their newborn babies.

Reports state that the couple “could not find the courage and the way to tell others about their devastating loss.”

Going through the birth only to lose the babies has resulted in “permanent emotional injuries from which they will not recover.”

In addition to the IVF mix-up, apparently, the couple has not been told what exactly happened to the two female embryos that were supposed to be implanted.

They don’t even know for sure if the remaining embryos they have cryopreserved are theirs.

Not an isolated case

Perhaps the saddest part is that none of this is their fault. They trusted in their chosen clinic and did everything that was asked of them to help ensure success.

Unfortunately, this is not the only time an IVF mix-up has happened and, sadly, it’s unlikely to be the last.

Earlier this year a similar report surfaced in which a Connecticut fertility clinic had implanted the wrong embryo. Once again embryos had been mixed up before implantation, resulting in the couple giving birth to a baby of a different race and not a biological match.

With one in 25 babies in Australia born through IVF and a growing number of women choosing to freeze their embryos or eggs, it’s important couples do their research.

In an article for The Conversation, senior lecturer at De Monfort University Kylie Baldwin advises that not all fertility clinics are equal.

She advises anyone who is thinking about freezing embryos or eggs to “find a clinic that has plenty of experience with the procedure.

She says it’s also important to ask the clinic to provide success rates based on their own data, not average figures relating to published data from other clinics.


If this topic interested you, check out these related posts:

Mum discovered fertility doctor is actually her biological dad

The best apps for getting pregnant and tracking your fertility

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Author

Leanne is Mum Central's Editor-in-Chief. A former Sydneysider, she turned her ideas of a sea change into reality and now lives with her family in beautiful South-West WA. A lover of yoga and travel, like most mums, she’s on a quest to create a better work-life balance. When she’s not pulling socks out from behind the sofa or sponging little hand prints off the walls, she’s in the kitchen trying to dream up exciting lunch box ideas for her three cheeky monkeys.

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