LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A Los Angeles couple is suing the California Center for Reproductive Health for in vitro fertilization after they learned the baby they had birthed and raised was not theirs. 

“Instead of breastfeeding my own child, I breastfed and bonded with a child that I was later forced to give away,” said Daphna Cardinale. “I have so many mixed emotions of carrying my birth daughter inside my body. Every time I felt a kick or spoke to her, it was someone else’s baby.”

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Cardinale and her husband, Alexander, were one of the two couples who did IVF through the Encino-based, California Center for Reproductive Health. Each mother carried to term and raised what they presumed to be their genetically related babies for four months until they learned they were in fact the wrong infants. The couple filed a lawsuit against their fertility doctor Eliran Mor, his clinic, lab and the surgical center where the IVF procedure took place in 2019. 

“Falling in love with our new baby while at the same time constantly fighting nagging questions and dark thoughts of doubt,” said Alexander. “It was truly my hell.”

According to the press release, the Cardinales noticed that the baby girl they raised was of a different race and look drastically different from the couple and their older daughter. DNA tests performed at three months old later confirmed their suspicions. “Our memories of childbirth will always be tainted by the sick reality that our biological child was given to someone else and the baby I fought to bring into this world was not mine to keep,” said Daphna.  

The couple’s attorney said that the multi-billion dollar fertility industry needs more regulation, claiming that salons are subject to more regulation than clinics. However, fertility expert Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, said the industry already has robust regulatory systems. 

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“We are inspected every two years by the College of American Pathologists,” said Steinberg, who has been in the IVF business for 35 years. “These are high-end inspections. They look at every single detail of every single procedure that goes on.”

With a shortage of embryologists, Steinberg believes it was likely human error that caused the fiasco. He said that every dish in his lab is laser-etched with the parents’ names. 

“Identification, identification, identification,” he said. “We have a quadruple safety system.”

Whether it was human error or common negligence, the Cardinales are still adjusting to raising a new child. “The daughter that we raised and bonded with was gone after months of love and affection,” said Daphna. “There is no way to describe the pain we have been through.”

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The other couple is also expected to file a lawsuit. Mor could not be reached for comment.