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Ohio woman sues fertility clinic after daughter born from 'wrong sperm'

6 October 2014
Appeared in BioNews 774

A woman is suing a sperm bank in Ohio, USA, after she became pregnant with sperm from the wrong donor.

According to the lawsuit, filed against Midwest Sperm Bank, Jennifer Cramblett and her same-sex partner, Amanda Zinkon, had ordered sperm from a white donor but due to a mistake at the sperm bank, her fertility clinic was instead sent sperm from an African-American donor.

The lawsuit states that the sperm bank's records were not electronic, and that the sperm vial numbers were written in 'pen and ink'.

The couple only learned of the mistake when, five-months-pregnant, Cramblett called the sperm bank to reserve more sperm of the same donor, and was informed that she had been inseminated by the sperm of the wrong donor.

Cramblett is now suing for a minimum of US $50,000 in damages under wrongful birth and breach of warranty, citing the emotional and financial losses she has suffered.

'How could they make a mistake that was so personal?' said Cramblett in an interview with the Associated Press. 'They took a personal choice, a personal decision and took it on themselves to make that choice for us out of pure negligence'.

'I am happy that I have a healthy child, but I'm not going to let them get away with not being held accountable', Cramblett told NBC News.

Cramblett said she and Zinkon love their two-year-old daughter, Payton, and that they bonded with Payton easily. However, the lawsuit also cited Cramblett's fears, anxieties and uncertainty about the family's future. She is concerned about raising Payton in Uniontown, a small, predominantly white community which she described as 'too racially intolerant'.

An example of racial prejudice cited in the lawsuit is Cramblett's experience when getting her daughter's haircut. 'Payton has hair typical of an African American girl. To get a decent cut, [Cramblett] must travel to a black neighbourhood, far from where she lives, where she is obviously different in appearance, and not overtly welcome'.

She is also concerned about raising Payton in her 'all-white and often unconsciously insensitive family' that often 'speaks openly and derisively about persons of colour'.

Speaking to CBS News, lawyer Rikki Kliemann explained that the case presents a 'good legal lawsuit' due to the sperm bank's negligence, but it also poses 'moral issue' as to why Cramblett is disturbed by the birth of her healthy, albeit racially mixed, child. 'The lawsuit is called a wrongful birth lawsuit... traditionally brought if you had a child that had a congenital birth defect or some kind of congenital abnormality that a doctor should have warned the parents about', he said.

'I think it's an unfortunate labeling', Kliemann adds. 'So is breach of warranty, which is a second count because breach of warranty sounds like a commodity - you bought a car and it was defective'.

Legal representatives for Midwest Sperm Bank said that the company would not comment on pending litigation.

Black Donor Sperm Mistakenly Sent to White Mom Jennifer Cramblett: Suit
NBC News |  1 October 2014
Lawsuit: Wrong sperm delivered to lesbian couple
Chicago Tribune |  1 October 2014
PDF: Read the lawsuit against Downers Grove sperm bank
Chicago Tribune |  29 September 2014
White woman sues sperm bank after she mistakenly gets black donor’s sperm
Washington Post |  2 October 2014
White women sue sperm bank over black donor error
The Telegraph |  2 October 2014
'Wrongful birth': White woman sues after she mistakenly receives sperm from black donor
CBS News |  2 October 2014
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