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Fertility clinic ordered to reveal donor list after sperm mix-up

16 September 2019
Appeared in BioNews 1015

A New Jersey couple is suing a fertility clinic after another man's sperm was accidentally used during their IVF treatment.

Kristina Koedderich and Drew Wasilewski, were treated at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science (IRMS) in Livingston, New Jersey, where a successful IVF cycle in 2013 led to the birth of a baby girl. However, as their daughter grew, they noticed she was developing Asian features (both Koedderich and Wasilewski are Caucasian), leading them to seek a DNA test in 2015 which revealed that Wasilewski was not the biological father of the child.

The couple has since divorced and claim that the negligence of the clinic was a major contributing factor in the breakdown of their marriage.

'It's been devastating for them,' said the former couple's lawyer, David Mazie, of Mazie, Slater, Katz & Freeman.

'To go through all the shots, all of the treatments, spend all of that money, and be lucky enough to have a child but then find out it's not 100% your child ... it's inexcusable. It should never happen,' he told NPR.

Koedderich and Wasilewski have filed a lawsuit against the clinic, demanding records from their database in order to determine the genetic father of the child. They have requested information on men who froze sperm samples around the time of the incident, all Asian sperm donors who donated around that time and employees working in the clinic at the time their embryos were created. 

The order to hand over records was granted by Superior Court Judge Keith Lynott, but to protect patient privacy they will not include identifying information on any of the records except for the genetic father, once he is identified.

The lawsuit also seeks answers to what was done with Wasilewski's sperm. 

'They took it and it was defrosted. If they didn't use it for this procedure, they must have used it in some other procedure. […] If he has children, he wants to know. He wants to meet them,' Mazie told NPR. 

To this end the lawsuit also requests details of women who had their eggs fertilised at the clinic around the same time as Koedderich.

Koedderich and Wasilewski are also suing for unspecified damages and seeking monetary compensation. While they both love their daughter unconditionally, the incident has caused them 'great pain, suffering, permanent injuries and disabilities, as well as the loss of enjoyment of the quality of life'. 

According to court documents, the hospital claimed that the correct sperm was used in the procedure, so the child must be the couple's, or that the birth resulted from an 'extramarital affair', however IRMS have since released a statement explaining that they are 'thoroughly examining the incident'.

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