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‘Devastating’: Couples give birth to each other’s babies in IVF mix-up

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Two California couples gave birth to each others’ babies after a mix-up at a fertility clinic – and then spent months raising children that weren’t theirs, according to a lawsuit filed in a Los Angeles court.

The baby girls were eventually swapped back to their rightful parents, in emotional handovers.

The saga began after Daphna Cardinale gave birth to a baby girl in September 2019 after trying for three years to conceive a second child with her husband Alexander.

The baby was conceived via IVF.

But not long after her birth, the Cardinales began to suspect she might might not be their biological daughter, because she had a darker complexion.

Mr Cardinale told CBS he had an ‘instinctual’ reaction after his wife had given birth, feeling that something was off.

“I had a weird, sort of a gut reaction when she was born,” he said.

“It wasn’t anything logical. It was just, like, an instinct.”

IVF
Daphna and Alexander Cardinales are suing after she gave birth to a baby that was not theirs.

When the baby girl was three months old, the couple sought a DNA test. The test results confirmed their worst fears – she was not their biological daughter.

They realised Ms Cardinale had a stranger’s embryo implanted – and feared that the same horrific mistake had been made with one of their embryos, which had been made with her egg and Mr Cardinale’s sperm.

Ms Cardinale said she and her husband were devastated when they discovered the child wasn’t theirs.

“When I found out she wasn’t mine, I poured more love into her,” she said.

“I don’t know. Maybe I was just clinging to her, but I was just so scared I was going to lose her, which I ultimately did.”

In a news conference announcing their lawsuit, the couple said breaking the news to their eldest daughter, now aged seven, was “the hardest thing” they ever had to do.

“My heart breaks for her, perhaps the most,” Ms Cardinale said.

The couple then discovered that they had a biological baby daughter, who had been born to another California couple just one week before Ms Cardinale gave birth.

The two babies were swapped back to their biological parents in January 2020. The other couple, who wish to remain anonymous, also plan to file a similar lawsuit.

Mr Cardinale said the couple had to play “a lot of catch-up” after finally meeting their baby girl, and aimed to bring awareness about the potential for such mix-ups.

“We can’t sleep at night knowing that this is happening and no one is doing anything. No one’s talking about it,” he said.

Since the baby swap, the four parents have made an effort to stay in each other’s lives and “forge a larger family”, Ms Cardinales said.

“They were just as much in love with our biological daughter as we were with theirs,” Mr Cardinales said.

The California lawsuit follows a similar mixup in the US. In 2019, Anni and Ashot Manukyan became the parents of twin girls, conceived through IVF.

The couple, who are Korean-American, were stunned to learn the twins had a different ethnicity.

DNA testing further shocked the parents when they learned that, not only were the infant girls not related to them, but they were also not related to each other.

The Manukyans alleged that their fertility company had implanted their embryo into another woman.

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