LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A Glendale couple who discovered that a New York woman had given birth to their biological son as a result of an unimaginable embryo mix-up at a Los Angeles-based fertility clinic spoke out Wednesday about the horror of discovering the error.
As a result, Anni and Ashot Manukyan say they did not meet their son for six weeks.
“Who wants to meet their child in the lobby of a hotel?” Anni Manukyan told reporters at a news conference Wednesday. “It was heartbreaking, it was terrible.”
On March 11, a New York couple of Korean descent who had spent tens of thousands of dollars on in vitro fertilization services through L.A.-based CHA Fertility Center were shocked when they gave birth to two male babies who were not of Asian descent.
Genetic testing confirmed that the embryos were not theirs, but belonged to two other couples, one of whom being the Manukyans, who say they suddenly received a call in March from the COO of CHA, Yumie Lee.
“She called me and she said that, ‘I need you guys to come, you and your husband to come in, so we can do a DNA test on you guys,'” Anni said Wednesday.
Anni said that when she questioned Lee as to whether something was wrong, Lee responded no.
“(Lee) laughed and she said, ‘no, don’t worry, your embryos are completely fine, nothing is wrong with them,’” Anni said. “’This has nothing to do with it.’ I’m like, ‘OK, then what’s the problem?’ She said, ‘we need to see if it’s a match.’ I said, ‘to see if what’s a match?’ She said, ‘I can’t go into detail, I can’t say anything at all because other parties are involved.'”
The New York couple, who have not publicly identified themselves, returned both children back to their biological parents. The Manukyans didn’t meet their son until six weeks after he was born.
“Over two weeks ago I believe, she (Lee) said, ‘there were two babies that were born,’ and once she said that, I heard my heart beat outside of my body,” Manukyan said.
The New York couple have since filed a federal lawsuit against CHA claiming it knew about the mix-up and tried to hide it, according to CBS News. The Manukyans filed their own lawsuit Wednesday in L.A. County Superior Court.
“(Lee) just said, ‘don’t worry, he’s your child,’ she kept reassuring me that, ‘you know what, you’re gonna get your child back.'”
The Manukyans say were heartbroken for the New York couple who cared for their son all that time and have been in contact with them. They want CHA held responsible.
“CHA put my family through living hell,” Ashot said. “We were like zombies. We could not sleep, eat or focus. We were helpless. It was awful. This situation should never have happened.”