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Couple suing IVF clinic after mix-up led to another couple having their child

A couple is suing a Los Angeles fertility clinic after claiming a mix-up led to their embryo being implanted in a different woman who gave birth to their son.
/ Source: TODAY

A California couple says they have endured a "living hell" after a fertility clinic mix-up resulted in another woman giving birth to their son through in vitro fertilization.

Anni and Ashot Manukyan have filed a lawsuit for medical malpractice and negligence against CHA Fertility in Los Angeles, claiming that the clinic mixed up embryos and implanted one in a New York woman who gave birth to the Manukyans' biological son.

The couple says they discovered the mix-up because the New York couple, who are Korean American, gave birth in March to two boys "who did not appear to be of Asian descent," according to a separate lawsuit filed by the New York couple against CHA Fertility.

The New York couple, who are identified only by their initials in court documents, also thought they were having two girls and were shocked when they ended up having a pair of boys.

One of the boys was the Manukyans' son, and the other belonged to an unidentified third couple.

The Manukyans did not meet their son until he was 6 weeks old. The New York couple, who said in their lawsuit they were never told what happened to their own embryos, initially wanted to keep the babies but eventually returned them to their biological parents.

"I wasn't there for his birth, I did not carry him, I did not feel him kick inside of me,'' an emotional Anni Manukyan told TODAY. "Nobody should meet their baby in the lobby of a hotel."

"CHA put my family through living hell," Ashot Manukyan said at a press conference in Los Angeles Wednesday.

The couple said that the fertility clinic had them take a DNA test in April for what the clinic claimed was a quality control test. Anni Manukyan said they were then called in to the clinic the next day and told about the mix-up and informed that their son had been born two weeks earlier.

"She goes, 'Yes, a woman gave birth to twins and one of them is yours,''' Manukyan said.

CHA Fertility has not made any public statements and did not respond to NBC News' request for comment.

"None of this should have happened to none of us,'' Anni Manukyan said.

Experts say that IVF mishaps like the one claimed by the Manukyans can occur due to lack of oversight and regulations in what has become a booming industry, with demand doubling between 2007 and 2017.

Mistakes like switched embryos, eggs fertilized by the wrong sperm and embryos simply being mislabeled can happen without proper regulation. Parents can also be oblivious to the mistakes unless there's a clear visual difference.

There is no single government agency empowered to crack down on mistakes made by fertility clinics, and no single government entity oversees the fertility industry as a whole.

"CHA was not required, apparently, to report this to anybody,'' the Manukyans' attorney, Adam Wolf, said on TODAY.

Experts recommend couples looking to undergo the IVF process should learn about the procedures they are considering and make sure labs are accredited by the College of American Pathologists.

As for the Manukyans, they are overjoyed to now have their baby son home with them.

"He's amazing,'' Anni Manukyan said. "We love him so much. I mean, you know, he's ours. He's been ours since day one."