A Glendale couple spoke out Wednesday against a downtown Los Angeles fertility clinic after a New York woman gave birth to their child in an in vitro fertilization mixup involving three different couples.
CHA Fertility Center on Wilshire Boulevard implanted the couple's embryo through IVF in a woman who gave birth to the two babies in New York, and implanted the Glendale woman with an embryo from a third couple, lawyers from Peiffer Wolf Carr and Kane allege.
Each child born to the New York woman was found to be a genetic match to a different couple, lawyers said.
The New York couple, identified as A.P. and Y.Z., also filed a lawsuit against CHA Fertility Center on July 1, 2019, after a DNA test found that the two baby boys A.P. gave birth to were not a genetic match to the couple or to each other, CNN reported.
A.P. and Y.Z., who are both Asian, suspected a mixup when A.P. gave birth to two non-Asian babies.
The clinic later asked the Glendale couple, Anni and Ashot Manukyan, to come in for a DNA swab test that confirmed they were the parents, the family said.
The Manukyans then filed a lawsuit to recover their genetic child from the New York woman, in a legal process that took several months, the couple's lawyers said.
On Wednesday, the Glendale couple announced a lawsuit to "recover their losses and to sue for emotional distress inflicted in what is one of the worst embryo-related tragedies in U.S. history," the news release read.
“CHA robbed me of my ability to carry my own child—my baby boy—and to be with him in his first couple moments of his life," Anni Manukyan said at a news conference, tears streaming down her face.
The mother said the clinic never explained what happened the couple's other embryos, "leaving the possibility that another child is out somewhere and we don’t know about.”
“CHA inserted a stranger’s embryo into my womb, leaving us feeling violated by people that we trusted,” Anni Manukyan said.
The family described going through a "grueling" months-long ordeal to bring their child from New York.
“CHA put my family through living hell," the father, Ashot Manukyan said. "We’re like zombies. We could not sleep, eat or focus. We were helpless and it was awful.”
The couple said they were granted custody in May and saw their baby boy for the first time, six weeks after he was born.
“Who wants to meet their child in the lobby of a hotel? It was heartbreaking. It was terrible,” Anni Manukyan said.
The couple said they're speaking out about the mixup in hopes to prevent it from happening again.
“I don’t understand how CHA could have done this to us. This is the most important thing in our lives," Anni Manukyan said.
The couple and their attorney alleged that the fertility clinic attempted to cover up what had happened when they confronted them.
CHA Fertility Center could not be reached for comment.
The fertility center's website said that "Los Angeles (CFC LA) has fulfilled the dreams of tens of thousands of aspiring parents from Southern California and beyond in over 22 countries."
It's unclear who are the genetic parents of the second baby born to A.P.
"The Glendale couple was ensnared by CHA in an elaborate three-family cascade of errors that resulted in the New York woman bearing two children of different ethnicities from her own," the law firm said.
A.P. and Y.Z. in New York also don't know what happened to their embryos, and are suing the center for the physical and emotional harm caused by the mixup, and accusing the center of medical malpractice, negligence and 14 other counts, CNN reported.
The Manukyans said they were thankful to the New York woman who gave birth to their son.
“I’m eternally grateful to her for carrying my baby and taking care of him even after birth,” Anni Manukyan said. “She’s a wonderful woman and I pray for her every day, and God will give her own beautiful babies one day. She deserves that.”
The Manukyans' attorney, Adam Wolf, said his firm is known for representing victims of fertility clinic misconduct.
“This case is one of the most egregious I have ever seen,” Wolf said.
The family is suing to cover the costs paid to the clinic as well as the legal fees they spent to get custody of the boy.
“It’s all so cruel. We are human beings,” Anni Manukyan said. “We deserve dignity, the truth and answers.”