Case Involving Mishandled Embryos From Three Couples
Genetic testing has revealed one of the worst fertility center tragedies known to date. A New York couple unknowingly carried the baby of Glendale couple Anni and Ashot Manukyan. Separately, another unknown couple’s sperm and eggs were inserted into Anni Manukyan without her permission. The Manukyans were one of three couples to have their embryos mishandled by the Los Angeles-based CHA Fertility Center (CHA). Today, the Glendale couple were the first victims of the CHA debacle to speak out publicly on the matter.
The Glendale couple filed suit today after undergoing a grueling multiple-month process to bring home their son, who was born to the couple in New York. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Anni and Ashot Manukyan in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles by Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane, names CHA Health Systems and CHA Fertility Center, its owner and medical director Joshua Berger, chief operating officer Yumi Lee, and laboratory director Simon Hong, among others.
Citing “extreme and outrageous” conduct by CHA and its officials, the lawsuit seeks to recover emotional damages, punitive damages, and a wide range of costs, including those incurred in the legal battle to bring their son home and those paid to CHA. For more information, go to www.LostEmbryos.com.
In her first public comments about the fertility center errors and resulting litigation, Anni Manukyan said: “We relied on CHA to help us build a family and, instead, they robbed us of the opportunity to bring our own son into this world. We can never forgive CHA. Our goal as a family is to hold CHA accountable and make sure that no one ever suffers like we did.”
Ashot Manukyan said: “CHA put three families through a living hell, and our lives will never be the same. We fought to get our boy back, and now we will fight to make sure this never happens again.”
Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane attorney Adam Wolf said: “This incredible series of events demonstrates CHA’s shocking incompetence. While I have handled hundreds of cases of fertility-center misconduct, this tragedy at CHA is among the most egregious I have seen. Anni and Ashot put all their faith and trust in CHA. In return, CHA gave Anni and Ashot lies, excuses and heartbreak. We will not rest until this multinational corporation is held accountable.”
CHA Fertility touts itself as the “mecca of reproductive medicine” and one of the “premier fertility treatment networks in the world.” Further, they claim to provide “the highest degree of personalized care delivered with the utmost sense of duty.”
Despite CHA’s promises, Anni’s and Ashot’s nightmare unfolded as follows:
In August 2018, CHA inserted the sperm and egg of complete strangers into Anni without her knowledge or consent. When that procedure failed to result in a pregnancy, Anni and Ashot were devastated, believing that they had lost their own embryos.
Unbeknownst to them, one of Anni’s and Ashot’s embryos—along with an embryo from a second couple—were implanted in a New York woman, who did successfully become pregnant while being unaware that she was carrying embryos from two unrelated couples.
Not wanting to give up and unaware of the existence of the son that soon would be born, Anni and Ashot knew that the only way to have a child would be to go through another IVF cycle. Anni suffered extreme physical pain and mental distress during and after these procedures.
In the spring of 2019, CHA reached out to Anni and Ashot, luring them back into the clinic for a supposedly routine cheek swab test. Though multiple CHA employees assured Anni and Ashot that the cheek swab was a normal quality check procedure, the truth was appalling. In fact, CHA wanted to obtain their DNA—under false pretenses—so that CHA could determine covertly whether a child, born on March 11, 2019 to a New York couple as one of two twins, might actually be Anni’s and Ashot’s child.
Weeks later, Anni and Ashot learned that they had a son, but CHA refused to provide any further information regarding the identity of the New York couple or the whereabouts of their son. During those weeks of uncertainty, Anni and Ashot did not know if they would ever be able to meet their child.
The anxiety brought on by this nightmare was unbearable. Anni developed a stress-related illness. She was admitted to the hospital, where she stayed for two days. Both Anni and Ashot began to see psychologists to help grapple with their stress and worry.
Anni and Ashot hired a legal team that devised a novel plan—filing a habeas corpus petition in family court—to attempt to obtain custody of their son. Anni and Ashot immediately flew to New York. They did not return until 11 days later—when, thankfully, they came back with their son. The moment that the judge granted their petition, Anni physically collapsed.
Mommy In Los Angeles® Magazine reached out to CHA Fertility Center and nobody was available to offer comment.