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'This was basically their one job, and they messed it up'

Couple who was implanted with wrong embryo: ‘They can’t take it away’

In first public remarks, husband and wife who received the wrong embryo rail against hospital behind the mix-up, say they don’t want to give up the baby

Illustrative image: a single sperm is injected directly into an egg as part of IVF (Lars Neumann via iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image: a single sperm is injected directly into an egg as part of IVF (Lars Neumann via iStock by Getty Images)

An Israeli couple who received the wrong embryo during fertility treatments said they were appalled by the mix-up and planned to raise the child as their own, though their custody may be contested in court.

“It’s crazy. We just can’t believe it, especially my wife. Naturally, she responded to it, saying, ‘No way. It’s hers, and this is impossible. They can’t take [the baby] away,'” the father told Channel 12, which first reported on the case.

For privacy reasons, the couple asked not to be identified by name, using instead their first Hebrew initials.

The husband, “Aleph,” said they had no question about raising the baby as their own, despite the situation.

“We never thought otherwise for a moment, even with all of the dilemmas and everything that happened, we never had one hesitation or thought on the subject,” he said.

“This girl — from the first second she was implanted we’ve been counting the minutes until she was born,” Aleph said.

However, this type of case — where an embryo is implanted in the wrong woman — appears to be unprecedented in Israel, making it unclear how things will turn out if the matter goes to trial.

The couple said it had taken them years for the wife, “Ayin,” to get pregnant, requiring multiple rounds of fertility treatments at Rishon Lezion’s Assuta Medical Center, including hormone therapies, egg extractions and other procedures, before they were finally successful.

When she was seven months pregnant, they went to another hospital for some tests, and there they discovered the error.

“After the procedure, they wanted to know more about our daughter, and then they said, ‘Wait, something doesn’t add up here.’ We did another, more invasive test and found it all out,” Aleph said.

“It’s crazy! This is basically their one job, and they messed it up,” he said.

Genetic testing has yet to determine the identity of the biological parents of the baby.

“Assuta expresses its regret for this rare occurrence, which happened in the IVF clinic in Rishon Lezion. This was a tragic human error, and Assuta will do everything in its power to find advanced solutions to improve the process so that a case like this never happens again,” the medical center said in a statement.

The Health Ministry vowed to immediately establish a committee to investigate the incident.

While extremely rare, similar cases have happened before.

In November 2021, the Los Angeles Times reported that a woman had given birth to her second daughter, only to discover weeks later that the girl was unrelated to her. In that case, the woman retained custody of the baby girl.

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