A couple is suing an Upper East Side fertility clinic and three of its employees, claiming the clinic had implanted another couple’s embryo and that the baby girl they had been expecting was not their own biological child.
The Massachusetts couple, who ended up terminating the pregnancy in December, also fear that the clinic, the New York Fertility Institute at 1016 Fifth Ave at 83rd Street, could have mistakenly implanted their own biological embryos into someone else.
The couple, identified only as “John and Jane Doe” in court documents, say they learned they were not the biological parents of the baby after a doctor conducted routine genetic tests and found the baby did not have their DNA. Khalid Sultan, one of the fertility specialists at the clinic—whose embryologist famously bungled a similar in vitro fertilization procedure before—initially claimed there had been a “lab error.” The couple got more tests that corroborated the first ones but Sultan insisted no mistakes had been made. After having still more DNA tests done, Sultan finally claimed the woman had a rare medical condition called “mosaicism,” meaning she had two sets of DNA in her body, according to the court records.
After the institute allegedly refused to allow their embryologist, Michael Obasaju, to meet with an independent embryologist they hired, the couple chose to abort the baby six months into the pregnancy, only days before it would have been illegal to do so. They didn’t want to give birth to someone else’s child and then face a possible custody battle.
In addition to suing over the allegedly botched IVF procedure, they have also accused the clinic of losing Jane Doe’s embryos and failing to disclose their fate. Seeking a fourth child, they underwent several egg retrievals starting in the fall of 2020.
The couple is suing the New York Fertility Institute, Obasaju, Sultan, and another fertility specialist, Majid Fateh, saying they were all complicit in covering up Obasaju’s history. He made headlines in 1988 when a White couple from Staten Island that he was treating gave birth to both a White baby and a Black baby—embryos from another couple had been implanted along with their own. A state inquiry concluded that Obasaju—who, like many embryologists, does not have a medical degree but rather a doctorate—knew about his error but failed to do anything about it. The Staten Islanders fought to keep both babies, but the other couple eventually won custody of their biological child.
The state health department is now investigating the fertility institute.