Couple pays $500k for IVF – and gets the wrong sperm

A heartbreaking story has emerged out of the United States, where a woman undergoing IVF treatment had her egg mistakenly impregnated with the wrong man’s sperm.

She and her husband only realised the issue when their healthy child was born and began developing Asian features – and both parents are Caucasian. This only became obvious once the child, who is now 6, was a toddler.

“They love her very much, but it’s a very sensitive and very stressful situation for them,” the couple’s lawyer, David Mazie of Mazie, Slater, Katz & Freeman, told the New York Post.


The pair are now suing the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science at Saint Barnabas, who bungled the procedure. They’re seeking unspecified monetary damages, saying the clinic’s mammoth mistake has caused them “great pain, suffering, permanent injuries and disabilities, as well as the loss of enjoyment of the quality of life”.

DNA testing has confirmed that the husband is definitely not the father, and the couple have since divorced, which they say is partly due to the stress and strain of the situation.

Another contributing factor to their separation, in my humble opinion, would have been the astronomical cost of the IVF procedure.

It’s staggering: the couple spent AU$727,641 ($US500,000) for fertility treatment.

What a remarkable amount of money. I think IVF and fertility treatment is miraculous; it’s incredible that scientists have been able to work out how to manipulate our reproductive systems, to work around problems that can’t be overcome naturally.

But to come with a price-tag of half a million dollars? That not only makes IVF inaccessible, and therefore increasingly the domain of the wealthy, but it also puts so much pressure on that poor child to bring happiness to the family.

Meanwhile in this sorry situation, the Superior Court Judge Keith Lynott has just recently ordered the clinic to hand over a list of men who donated sperm about the same time the couple used the facility. They hope to narrow down who the girl’s biological father is, in an effort to learn more about her genetic history and to develop a relationship.

So many lives impacted over a simple procedural error in a lab. Fertility treatment may be miraculous, but as with all things, when humans start meddling it becomes all the more complicated.