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Couple files lawsuit over implanted embryo with cancer gene

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2023 | Surrogacy Law |

A California couple has filed a lawsuit against a fertility clinic after learning that their 1-year-old son has a genetic mutation that gives him an 80% chance of developing stomach cancer later in his life. The couple decided to pursue in vitro fertilization just to avoid this outcome. The mother has the BRCA-1 genetic mutation, which increases her chances of developing ovarian and breast cancer, and the father has the CDH1 genetic mutation, which made him vulnerable to developing hereditary diffuse gastric cancer. He was diagnosed with the condition in 2018.

Cover up

The couple claim in their lawsuit that they specifically told the fertility clinic they were interested in in vitro fertilization to prevent their child from being born with the genetic mutations they could pass on. The couple’s baby boy was born in September 2021. During a meeting with her IVF coordinator in 2022, the mother says that she saw handwritten notes on her embryo report that revealed her child carried the CDH1 genetic mutation. She then asked the fertility clinic to provide a copy of the report. When she received it, she noticed that the handwritten notes had been erased.

Grim future

The boy now faces a grim future. The father had his stomach removed when chemotherapy failed to halt his cancer, and two of his aunts succumbed to hereditary diffuse gastric cancer before they reached the age of 50. Even if the gastrectomy halts the spread of the disease, his quality of life will never be the same. As often happens in cases pertaining to fertility and surrogacy, the IVF facility standing by its work and claiming that it did nothing wrong.

Misplaced trust

This couple relied on medical professionals to protect their child, but their trust was misplaced. Other couples may be able to avoid making the same mistake because the details of this case is likely to appear in online searches. These parents will have to be content with the remedies that the law can provide.