Couple sues Pasadena fertility clinic over alleged wrong sex embryo implant

A male same-sex couple is suing a Pasadena in-vitro fertilization clinic, alleging their hopes of having a son were stymied when a female embryo was wrongly implanted in their gestational carrier and a daughter was born to them instead in 2021.

Albert Saniger and Anthony Saniger brought the lawsuit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court against HRC Fertility and fertility specialist Dr. Bradford A. Kolb, alleging breach of contract, medical malpractice, negligence, fraudulent concealment and violation of the Unfair Competition Law and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

An HRC representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The Sanigers met more than 10 years ago, married in 2013 and dreamed of having a maximum of two children, both sons, the suit states. Before they were wed, the Sanigers chose first and middle names for their future sons in May 2015 and created Gmail accounts for their future offspring with their first and last names, the suit states.

Throughout the process, the Sanigers were explicit with HRC and Kolb that they wanted only male embryos transferred to their gestational carrier and the defendants represented that the Sanigers would get to select the exact embryos, which had an identified gender, to be used in each transfer, the suit states.

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Instead, HRC and Kolb "negligently, recklessly, and/or intentionally transferred a female embryo to the Sanigers' gestational carrier," according to the suit.

HRC "specifically targets" families in the LGBTQ community and its website says the clinic is "dedicated to helping the gay and lesbian community achieve their dreams of parenthood," the suit states.

HRC's website also states that Kolb is internationally known for his expertise in complex reproductive matters and that patients come from around the world to seek his services, the suit states. The website further states that Kolb's practice is known for helping to develop and implement cutting-edge technologies in the genetic screening of embryos and the development of new laboratory technologies, according to the suit.

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IVF is a particularly expensive process for male gay couples who must arrange for their children to be carried to term by a gestational carrier, the suit states. In May 2020, the Sanigers provided their sperm to HRC to create their embryos and arrangements were made for donor eggs and a gestational carrier through a third-party agency at a total cost to the plaintiffs of about $300,000, the suit states.

Unsuccessful transfers occurred in July and September 2020 before their surrogate became pregnant in December of that year, the suit states.

The Sanigers' daughter was born in 2021, the suit states.

"To this day, HRC has offered no explanation for how this error occurred," the suit states.

The financial impact to the Sanigers is "staggering" because they ultimately will be raising three children rather than the two sons for which they had planned, the suit states.

HRC has released the following statement in response:  "At HRC Fertility, our mission is to provide world-class care. We have helped thousands of people, including the couple involved in this lawsuit. The couple ideally desired a baby boy but were blessed with a healthy girl. To their dissatisfaction, we have sought to address their concerns. Every child has value and limitless potential regardless of gender. We hope the Sanigers find love and value in their healthy child while so many across the country are struggling with reproductive issues. Since 1988, we have remained and continue to remain, dedicated to helping hopeful parents build families through assisted reproductive technology, compassion, expertise, innovation, cutting edge research and personalized care."