Two California couples gave birth to each others' babies after a mix-up at a fertility clinic and spent months raising children that weren't theirs before swapping the infants, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles. Daphna Cardinale said she and her husband, Alexander, had immediate suspicions that the girl she gave birth to in late 2019 wasn't theirs because the child had a darker complexion than they do, the AP reports. They suppressed their doubts because they fell in love with the baby and trusted the in vitro fertilization process and their doctors, Daphna said. She learned months later that she had been pregnant with another couple's baby after their embryo was mistakenly implanted in her, and that another woman had had the Cardinales' embryo accidentally implanted and had been carrying her child.
"I was robbed of the ability to carry my own child. I never had the opportunity to grow and bond with her during pregnancy, to feel her kick," Daphna said during a news conference with her husband announcing the lawsuit. The Cardinales' complaint accuses the Los Angeles-based California Center for Reproductive Health (CCRH) and its owner, Dr. Eliran Mor, of medical malpractice, breach of contract, negligence, and fraud. It demands a jury trial and seeks unspecified damages. The two other parents involved in the alleged mix-up wish to remain anonymous and plan a similar lawsuit in the coming days, according to attorney Adam Wolf, who represents all four parents. The babies, both girls, were born a week apart in September 2019.
Both couples unwittingly raised the wrong child for nearly three months before DNA tests confirmed that the embryos were swapped in January 2020, according to the filing. Breaking the news to their older daughter, now 7, that doctors made a mistake and that the new baby wasn't actually her sister “was the hardest thing in my life,” Daphna said. “My heart breaks for her, perhaps the most,” she said. Since the mix-up came to light, both babies have been returned to their biological families. All four parents have since made an effort to stay in each other’s lives and “forge a larger family,” Daphna said. “They were just as much in love with our biological daughter as we were with theirs,” Alexander said. (Read more in vitro fertilization stories.)