A father from Delaware, Ohio is suing a hospital and a fertility clinic after learning that his daughter isn’t his biological child. Joseph Cartellone and his wife Jennifer underwent in vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive their daughter, Rebecca.
The mix up only came to light after Rebecca gifted the family home ancestry DNA kits last Christmas so they could trace their family tree. The results, 2 months later, showed that Rebecca didn’t share any of her father’s Italian genetic history. A separate paternity test in March confirmed that the two aren’t biologically related.
The family is now suing Cincinnati’s Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH), The Christ Hospital and Ovation Fertility. They allege that doctors used the wrong sperm to fertilize an embryo when the couple underwent IVF in 1993 and 1994. Rebecca’s biological father has since been narrowed down to five people, one of whom was a doctor at The Christ Hospital at the time.
According to Adam Wolf, one of the family’s attorneys, the defense will likely go through records to find whose sperm they used to create the embryo. The Cartellones are suing for negligence and breach of contract and are seeking compensatory damages.
“When we looked at the results, what we immediately noticed was that that there were no traces of Italian DNA in [Rebecca’s results] at all”, Joseph Cartellone told Good Morning America. “And her DNA matched my wife’s pretty closely.”
This has been extremely difficult for my family, he said.
“We have no idea if this was intentional or a horrifically negligent accident. We’ve asked but we’ve been met with radio silence.”
Negligent fertility clinics on the rise
Wolf says he gets calls daily from people who report fertility clinics being negligent.
“Right now, there are more regulations that pertain to your nail salon than to your fertility clinic”, he said. He and the family hope the lawsuit sparks change in the fertility industry.
There needs to be mandatory inspections of facilities, Wolf said. In most states, you don’t even need to be certified to run. In Ohio, fertility labs do not have to be accredited.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) refutes such claims and states that assisted reproductive technology (which includes IVF) is one of the most highly regulated of all medical practices in the USA.
But this is not the first time that a fertility clinic has been accused of misconduct. Last month, a lawsuit was filed after embryos from two separate couples were accidentally implanted in the wife of a third couple.
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