Couple embroiled in fertility clinic scandal speaks out

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A couple who found out that another woman had given birth to their child after an IVF blunder has spoken out for the first time as they sue the esteemed fertility clinic.

Anni and Ashot Manukyan, an Armenian-American couple of Glendale, Los Angeles, were distraught last year when they had two embryos implanted at CHA Fertility Center, but it didn't result in a pregnancy. 

But months later, the knife was twisted: they were asked to come into the center for cheek swabs on April 18, which were passed off as a routine annual procedure.

Days later they received a phone call informing them that the swab was in fact a DNA test, which confirmed that another couple in New York, also patients at CHA, had delivered their baby prematurely on March 31 - as well as another baby, belonging to a third couple whose embryos were on ice at CHA. 

It turned out the embryos Anni and Ashot had received months earlier had not belonged to them, and they faced an expensive and lengthy legal battle to bring their month-old son home. 

Their son, Alec, was six weeks old by the time they got to see him, meeting him in the lobby of a hotel.  

What's more, Anni and Ashot, who also have a seven-year-old daughter, are left with the prospect that another child of theirs may have been born to someone else. 

On Wednesday, the couple filed a lawsuit against CHA in the Superior Court of California and spoke out for the first time.  

'I don't hear anybody, you know?' Anni said, recalling the moment she found out.

'All of a sudden my brain went to: I didn't get to bond with my baby. I wasn't able to carry him, I wasn't able to hold him. I wasn't able to feel him inside of me. I wasn't there when he was born.

'Those first moments of life are the most precious, that's how the baby bonds with the mom, you know?

'I don't understand how CHA could have done this to us, the most important thing in our lives.

'I'm a strong person but I have been hurt by these experiences in ways that hurt me every day. I hope nobody suffers through what my family has been through.'   

From the moment they learned of the scandal in late April, they spent weeks trying to get hold of their son, eventually winning custody on May 31 from the Korean-American couple, who, Anni said, she is eternally grateful to and sorry for. 

'Who wants to meet their child in the lobby of a hotel? It was heartbreaking, it was horrible,' Anni said, weeping.   

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