As soon as Alexander Cardinale saw his newborn daughter, mere seconds after his wife Daphne had given birth, he knew something was off..
Alexander, age 41, stated, “It was a primitive response.”
He remembers standing in their Los Angeles hospital room in September 2019 and being perplexed by the fact that the infant did not resemble him or his wife..,
He explains, “It was a bit jarring, but I shook it off and broke the umbilical connection.”
Three months later, the couple discovered the shocking explanation: The fertility clinic where Alexander and Daphna underwent in vitro fertilization (IVF) implanted another couple’s embryo into Daphna and transferred the Cardinales’ embryo — made from Daphna’s egg and Alexander’s sperm — into the other woman, according to the Cardinales.
According to the Cardinales, both couples unknowingly raised the other’s child for over three months before discovering the disturbing truth.
“This has completely altered who we are,” says a still-shocked Daphna, 43, who switched babies with another couple in January 2020, roughly four months after the births of both infants. It is still a daily struggle, and it will remain such.
Alexander and Daphna are suing the reproductive clinic and its owner, the California Center for Reproductive Health in Los Angeles and Dr. Eliran Mor, for, among other things, medical malpractice, negligence, and fraud. The California Center for Reproductive Health’s office administrator declined to respond.
Adam Wolf, the couple’s attorney, states, “People make mistakes, and in most sectors, these errors are very innocuous.” They are correctable. In fertility facilities, errors can have lifetime repercussions. This has drastically altered the lives of Daphna, Alexander, and their two children.”
The couple’s journey commenced shortly after Daphne gave birth. Alexander could not shake the notion that they were not the true parents of the young child.
“Had we not used IVF, I would have just attributed [the lack of likeness] to genetics,” he says. “She just looks like she looks. No huge deal. But after undergoing IVF, my mind began to descend into the abyss.
Initially, though, Daphna attempted to persuade her husband that he was overreacting.
Daphne, who attempted to convince herself that their newborn resembled her as an infant, states, “She looked quite different from us.” “However, she seemed so familiar to me because I carried and delivered her.”
Daphna explains that friends and family members noted the same thing, remarking that “she appeared to be of a different ethnicity than us because she did not resemble us.”
Despite their reservations, the couple and their then-five-year-old daughter Olivia fell instantly in love with the dark-haired infant, whose race Alexander and Daphna refuse to name out of respect for the child’s biological parents.
A therapist, Daphna, describes the moment when everyone is getting to know each other and falling in love as “this moment of pure happiness.” She seamlessly integrated herself into our life and hearts.
The couple claimed that a month after the birth, an employee from the clinic that did their IVF procedure called and requested an image of their child.
Alexander, a musician, reflects, “It seemed weird.” “I wondered, ‘Do they know something that we don’t?’
A week later, after becoming increasingly irritated by her husband and friends’ comments, Daphna brought home a DNA test kit in an effort to put an end to everyone’s inquiries. In November of 2019, when their infant was approximately two months old, they discovered the truth.
Alexander recalls receiving an email stating that she was not genetically related to either of them. That is when our world began to come apart.
The couple claims they were worried that they would lose the little girl they had grown to love, and they were also terrified that they might have a biological kid who was still alive and needed to be located.
The couple’s attorney was alerted by clinic workers days later that the couple’s embryos had been jumbled up in the clinic’s lab, they said.
The Cardinales later heard that the clinic had located the biological parents of their daughter, who had also recently given birth to a baby girl.
In December 2019, the two spouses and their infants underwent DNA testing, and on Christmas Eve, they learned that they had given birth to one another’s children.
The following day, their solicitor gave Alexander a snapshot of their blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter via text message.
“At that time, I learnt that she existed, what she looked like, and what her name was,” says Alexander, who discovered that the other couple had named their daughter Zo, which the Cardinales opted to continue using. It is strange to learn the name of your child if you did not name her.
The other couple, who do not wish to be identified or speak publicly, were similarly “blindsided and distraught,” according to Daphna.
Their older daughter Olivia, who had fallen in love with her younger sibling, was equally devastated by the news and begged her parents not to transfer the infants.
The Cardinales say that by mid-January 2020, after weeks of meeting up with the other couple nearly every day and exchanging the children for brief visits, the four parents realized that the constant switching was too difficult for everyone and decided that the children should now live with their biological parents.
Nearly two years have gone since the two couples, who live within 10 minutes of one another, received custody of their children. During this time, they had developed a close friendship.
Alexander states, “There is no book on this.” “There is no one who can provide you guidance. Thus, the four of us ended up huddling together, and it’s a gift that we’re all on the same page.
Since then, we have spent every Christmas together. Since then, we’ve spent every birthday together, and the families have essentially merged.