EMBRYO MIX-UP NIGHTMARE: LOS ANGELES COUPLE SPEAKS OUT ABOUT BIRTHING, RAISING STRANGERS’ BABY

Attorney Adam Wolf: “The Cardinales’ ordeal has not ended … This will live with them for the rest of their lives”; Couple Sues California Center for Reproductive Health, In VitroTech Labs, and Medical Director/Lab Owner.

 

LOS ANGELES///NOVEMBER 8, 2021///When Daphna and Alexander Cardinale first saw their newborn daughter, one of the first things they noticed was that unlike the rest of their family, the baby had a much darker complexion and jet-black hair. The Cardinales had entrusted California Center for Reproductive Health (CCRH) with helping them conceive through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), but they would soon learn that their trust was violated in a shocking and disastrous manner. Genetic testing revealed that the baby Alexander and Daphna delivered and raised for months was not genetically related to them. Their baby was the biological child of complete strangers.

The Cardinales filed suit today after the agonizing process of learning the true identity of their “Birth Child” and locating their “Biological Child.” The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Alexander and Daphna in Los Angeles Superior Court by the law firm Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway, names CCRH, Beverly Sunset Surgical Associates, In VitroTech Labs, Inc., and CCRH’s medical director Dr. Eliran Mor as defendants. Unbeknownst to the Cardinales at the time, Dr. Mor was also the owner of In VitroTech Labs, Inc. and was engaged in self-dealing from one company to the other.

The lawsuit seeks to recover emotional damages, compensatory and property damages, and a wide range of costs. The suit also demands a jury trial.

Daphna Cardinale said: “Going through IVF is a very painful process physically and emotionally, involving injections, hormone treatments, blood tests, countless office visits, and even surgery.  We came to it with incredible vulnerability and trust in our doctor and in the process.  We had no idea, at the time, that this greatest potential for joy would bring us such enduring pain and trauma. After discovering the truth of what had happened to our family, I was overwhelmed with fear, betrayal, anger, and heartbreak. It was torture that shook me to my core and forever changed who I am.”

Alexander Cardinale said: “The moment our second daughter was born should have been among the happiest of my life. But I immediately felt shaken and confused as to why I didn’t recognize her. Falling in love with our new baby, and seeing our family of four coming into focus, while at the same time constantly fighting nagging questions and pushing down dark thoughts of doubt. This was truly my hell. This led to my wife ordering an online DNA test to put my fears to rest once and for all. When the truth came to light, it made exchanging the children all the more heartbreaking. Losing the birth child you know, for the genetic child that you don’t know yet. A truly impossible nightmare that inflicted trauma that will affect my family and me for the rest of our lives.”

Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway attorney Adam Wolf said: “The actions of CCRH, In VitroTech Labs and Dr. Mor are highly disturbing. The fact that Dr. Mor utilized his own lab, beleaguered by a history of misconduct allegations, for the Cardinales’ IVF treatment without their knowledge makes matters even worse. While it might be hard to believe, fertility disasters like this are becoming more commonplace. This case highlights an industry in desperate need of federal regulation. It’s time to demand accountability from big fertility.”

While CCRH claims to be “one of the top fertility clinics in the U.S.” with “proven high success rates year after year,” the Cardinales’ experience paints a starkly different picture. Their IVF nightmare occurred as follows:

  1. During an IVF procedure, CCRH purportedly transferred Daphna and Alexander’s embryo to Daphna, who consequently became pregnant and gave birth to a healthy daughter. After the birth, however, Alexander was confused and dismayed by the fact that she didn’t resemble either of her parents. Two months after the birth, a DNA test confirmed Alexander’s worst fear: the child was not related to the Cardinales.

 

  1. CCRH implanted a stranger’s embryo into Daphna, and Daphna became an unwilling and unknowing surrogate for an unknown couple whose child Daphna and Alexander were forced to raise. The Cardinales, including their young daughter, fell in love with this child, and were terrified she would be taken away from them. All the while, Alexander and Daphna did not know the whereabouts of their own embryo, and thus were terrified that another woman had been pregnant with their child—and their child was out in the world somewhere without them.

 

  1. Daphna and Alexander alerted CCRH. In the coming weeks, Alexander and Daphna learned that CCRH outsourced the handling of their embryo to In VitroTech Labs, Inc., a third-party embryology lab. Not only that, but the lab chosen (without Alexander and Daphna’s knowledge) was both owned by CCRH’s medical director Dr. Mor and had a sordid alleged history of mixing up, mislabeling, and/or losing customers’ genetic material.

 

  1. Daphna was surgically implanted—against her will or knowledge—with the sperm and egg of a man and woman who were complete strangers to her. Meanwhile, Daphna’s and Alexander’s embryo was transferred to that same couple a few weeks after Daphna’s transfer procedure. The other couple carried to term and gave birth to a baby girl (Alexander and Daphna’s biological child) and raised her for months before the mistakes were uncovered and proven.

 

  1. As a result of the multiple errors, Daphna and Alexander did not even know of their biological daughter’s existence until she was three months old. Another month passed before they would finally bring her home for good. Meanwhile, they were forced to give up forever the daughter whom Daphna carried to term and with whom their whole family had irrevocably bonded. The long-term consequences of this baby swap continue to haunt their entire family.

 

  1. Daphna and Alexander’s pain and fear have not abated with their reunion with their daughter. Both they and their older daughter have suffered life-changing emotional damages necessitating continuing mental-health treatment. Daphna’s and Alexander’s distress has manifested in severe physical-health problems, with which they continue to struggle.

 

  1. Additionally, this is the rare embryo-disaster case that involves very significant economic harm. Both Daphna and Alexander suffered substantial setbacks in their respective careers that are directly and proximately caused by this incident. Alexander, a budding musician at the time who was signed by Atlantic Records, needed to cancel a national tour to promote his then-hot music single. This destroyed any resulting radio play, stalled out the success of that single, led to Atlantic Records’ dropping him from its roster, and poisoned his relationships within the music industry. For her part, Daphna was unable to work while dealing with the fallout of the actions of CCRH, Beverly Sunset Surgical, In VitroTech Labs and Dr. Mor, and thus lost all but a few of her clients, effectively wiping out the practice she spent years building.

 

Attorney Adam Wolf added: “The Cardinales’ ordeal has not ended; it is just beginning. This will live with them for the rest of their lives.”

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MEDIA CONTACT:  Max Karlin, (703) 276-3255 or mkarlin@hastingsgroup.com.

ABOUT PEIFFER WOLF CARR KANE & CONWAY

Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway is a national law firm with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Cleveland, St. Louis, Austin, and New Orleans. Peiffer Wolf is nationally recognized for representing victims of fertility clinic misconduct, including destruction or loss of eggs and embryos. This is a highly technical area of law and science; individuals seeking legal representation in such matters would be well advised to look to a law firm that has successfully handled such cases in the past. www.PeifferWolf.com

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Streaming audio from the news event, a related video, and more information are available at www.LostEmbryos.com.