London – A tearful mother has told how an IVF clinic put her family "through a living hell" after her embryo was implanted into a woman of a different race who then gave birth.
Anni and her husband Ashot Manukyan are suing the fertility clinic in Los Angeles over the "unimaginable" blunder.
One of their embryos and the embryo of another couple were implanted into the Asian woman, who gave birth to the "twin" white boys.
Both boys were eventually returned to their respective biological parents following battles in the courts.
But Manukyan said the CHA Fertility Centre "robbed me of my ability to carry my own child".
"CHA put our families through a living hell, and our lives will never be the same," she said. "We fought to get our boy back and now we will fight to make sure this never happens again."
She added: "I wasn’t there for his birth, I did not carry him, I did not feel him kick inside of me, I didn’t do the skin to skin, I didn’t breastfeed him. All of that was just robbed from me because of this company that messed up."
The case has shone a light on the private IVF industry which is growing in the US and Britain but is largely unregulated.
Mr and Mrs Manukyan, 38 and 36, are suing in the Los Angeles superior court, accusing CHA of medical malpractice and negligence. Court papers say the babies were born on March 31 to the Asian couple, known only by their initials AP and YZ.
The couple, who are of Korean origin, had been trying for a baby for seven years and had paid CHA $100 000 (about R1.3-million), their own lawsuit said.
The pair, from New York, were expecting their own twin Asian girls.
In an interview Manukyan said: "They knew the day the babies were born because they had apparently called CHA and told them, OK we’re Asian and these children are white, they’re Caucasian. These children are definitely not ours."
Days later, the clinic asked the Manukyans, from California, to take a DNA test which they called a "routine quality check procedure". The suit says the test was anything but and when the results came in, the Manukyans were finally told the truth.
The tests also revealed the other boy belonged to a third couple who have not been identified.
Manukyan said the doctor told her: "Think of it as a good thing. You have a son now."
She continued: "I just lashed out. What about the [Asian] woman, you know? What is she going through right now? Thank God we got our child back but she ended up with nothing."