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Embryo Mixup Nets Woman $1 Million

Aug 4, 2004 | AP A Bay Area woman has been awarded $1 million in damages to settle a malpractice lawsuit against a fertility specialist who accidentally implanted her with the wrong embryos and then hid the mistake until the baby she delivered was 10 months old, according to her lawyer.

The embryos Susan Buchweitz received at a San Francisco clinic actually were intended for a married couple who underwent in vitro fertilization the same day using the husband's sperm and a different egg donor. The couple is now seeking custody of the 3-year-old son Buchweitz has raised since birth.

"The whole thing is creepy," said, Buchweitz's lawyer in her civil suit against the clinic, its lead doctor, and its former embryologist. "As I worked on this case, I kept returning to the feeling that this area of medicine is unregulated and these in vitro doctors are like gods. They have complete power over these desperate people who want to become pregnant."

Court papers allege that both the infertility doctor, Steven L. Katz, and Imam El-Danasouri, the scientist who incubated the embryos and allegedly provided the wrong ones, knew of the mix-up within minutes of Buchweitz's June 15, 2000, in vitro fertilization procedure at the Fertility Associates of the Bay Area clinic.

They concluded, however, that it would be better to let nature take its course from there than to provide their patient the truth and the choice of whether to terminate a pregnancy, Hersh said, adding that several experts summoned by Katz's defense in pretrial testimony agreed with that decision.

The couple who the embryos belonged to were implanted from the same set and the wife gave birth to a child 10 days after Buchweitz did, making her son and their daughter brother and sister.

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