Through tears and sobs, a California couple shared their heartbreak after learning their biological son had been born to a couple in New York after a fertility procedure went horrifically wrong.
Anni and Ashot Manukyan now have custody of their newborn baby, but it has been an emotional, nightmarish ride for three separate couples who have been affected by an egregious error on behalf of CHA Fertility Center in Los Angeles.
The Manukyans, who have been married since 2007, successfully used an embryo transfer to give birth to their daughter in 2011, ABC News reported.
In August 2018, the couple returned to the clinic for a second embryo transfer, believing they were using their three remaining embryos from the first treatment. However, Anni did not conceive this time around.
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) July 11, 2019
She and her husband were confused when approximately nine months later, CHA asked them to return to the clinic for DNA testing, concealing the reason why.
To their shock and dismay, the Manukyans learned that a couple across the country had given birth to two boys on March 31.
The boys were not biologically related to one another — one baby belonged to Anni and Ashot, and the second baby belonged to a third, unidentified couple.
According to CBS News, the New York couple, who are Asian-American, believed they were having twin girls. When two Caucasian boys were born instead, the couple knew something was wrong.
“They knew the day the babies were born because they had apparently called CHA and told them, okay we’re Asian and these children are white, they’re Caucasian. These children are definitely not ours,” Anni told CBS News.
Soon, the shocking truth came forward: CHA had mistakenly implanted one of the Manukyans’ embryos, and a second unidentified embryo, into the uterus of a woman who had come to the clinic on the same day for her own fertility procedure.
The New York couple was never told what happened to their own embryos, Today reported. While the couple had initially hoped to keep both the babies they gave birth to, they eventually had to relinquish custody.
Anni and Ashot had to go to court to gain custody of their biological son. They are now suing CHA, along with the couple from New York, who have asked to remain anonymous.
Anni told CBS that initially, CHA tried to smooth things over.
“She said, ‘Think of it as a good thing. You have a son now.’ And I just lashed out,” Anni said. “What about the woman, you know? What is she going through right now? Thank God we got our child back but she ended up with nothing.”
Today, baby Alec is doing well, Anni said, bonding with his biological parents. But she feels robbed of the pregnancy, delivery, and early weeks of his newborn life.
“I wasn’t there for his birth, I did not carry him, I did not feel him kick inside of me,” she told Today. “Nobody should meet their baby in the lobby of a hotel.”
Though the Manukyans have their son back, they are fighting to hold CHA accountable and make sure this does not happen to anybody else.
“CHA put three families through a living hell, and our lives will never be the same,” Ashot said in a press release. “We fought to get our boy back, and now we will fight to make sure this never happens again.”
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