An embryo mix-up at a Los Angeles IVF clinic, which resulted in twins who were in no way related to the couple they were born to, is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed this month in the US District Court.
The pair known as Y.Z. and A.P. are of Asian background and reside in Queens, New York. Married in 2012, they tried to have a baby for six years before attending the California clinic in January 2018.
They spent $100,000 on fertility treatment with the CHA Fertility Center, travelling cross-country to attend the clinic, which claims to be a "mecca of reproductive medicine" which has "fulfilled the dreams of tens of thousands of aspiring parents from Southern California and beyond in over 22 countries."
After meeting with clinic owners Joshua Berger and Simon Hong, and completing a program of drugs, tests, and medical procedures, eight embryos were created before the first embryo transfer in July 2018.
That transfer did not result in a pregnancy, but the second attempt - after two female embryos were thawed for transfer - was successful, with A.P. pregnant by September.
According to court correspondence, they "were ecstatic to learn that after years of trying to conceive, they had success and were pregnant with twins."
It was soon after that things began to unravel.
The couple were repeatedly told by sonographers that she was carrying twin boys, rather than the twin girls they had expected.
When they contacted Berger and Hong for an explanation, the were told ultrasounds were "not a definitive test" and were assured that they were girls. Dr Berger even told them that his wife had a girl when they were told they were expecting a boy, to convince them all was well.
On March 31, 2019, A.P. gave birth to twin boys.
Not only were they not related to A.P and Y.Z, genetic testing revealed the boys were not even related to each other, meaning that A.P had been implanted with the embryos of two separate couples who were clients of the clinic.
To add to their heartbreak, they were forced to give custody of the babies to their biological parents.
The couple "could not find the courage and the way to tell others about their devastating loss," with most friends and family still unaware of their ordeal.
They are suffering "permanent emotional injuries from which they will not recover," the court papers read, and they still do not know what has become of the two "irreplacable" female embryos.
A.P and Y.Z "may never know what happened to their embryos, as well as whether the currently cryopreserved embryos are genetically matched to them."
They are seeking damages of an undisclosed amount.