Los Angeles mom Anni Manukyan was hospitalized with shock after she was told, eight months after a failed round of IVF, that she had a weeks-old son in New York.
Her doctor at CHA Fertility Center in Los Angeles, flanked by a psychologist, explained on April 12 that a Korean-American couple, also patients at CHA, had accidentally received one of the embryos that Anni and her husband Ashot had on ice.
The New York couple had given birth to their son, prematurely, on March 31, alongside another baby boy - at first assumed to be a twin, but later found to be the biological son of a third, unrelated couple whose embryo was also wrongly implanted.
The mix-up was quickly spotted because the boys were not Asian - and the Asian couple had expected girls, since their embryos were female - so CHA surreptitiously called in all of their patients for a DNA test in the form of a cheek-swab, passed off as a 'routine' annual data collection.
As Anni and Ashot digested this information - that a complete stranger had carried and delivered their son, and had been with him for two weeks already - the doctor allegedly said: 'Don't worry, you will probably get your son back.'
They quickly discovered that the New York couple, identified only as YZ and AP, intended to fight for custody of the boys, triggering a weeks-long court fight that ended on Mother's Day weekend, when Anni and Ashot met their son, who they named Alec, for the first time in the lobby of a hotel.
Los Angeles mom Anni (left) was hospitalized for two days as she fought to regain custody of her weeks-old son, who was born to another woman in New York following an IVF mix-up
Alec, pictured with Ashot, finally returned to Los Angeles at the end of May after a six-week court battle over his custody. He was born prematurely in March to a Korean-American couple who accidentally received his embryo
'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. They were not allowed to know anything about their son, or the couple raising him, and the anxiety drove Anni to be hospitalized with a stress-related illness.
Eventually, they flew to New York and spent two weeks in family court.
When the judge eventually granted custody on May 31, Anni physically collapsed.
Dr. Joshua Berger, the co-owner of the clinic (left), and Simon Hong (right), the clinic co-owner, are named in the lawsuit
They were then allowed to meet Alec, and the Korean-American couple, to whom, Anni said, they are eternally grateful and sorry for.
'Who wants to meet their child in the lobby of a hotel? It was heartbreaking,