US fertility clinic mix-up brings calls, questions

January 14, 2014 by Paul Foy

The suspect is dead, the fertility clinic where he reportedly replaced a customer's sperm with his own no longer operates, and the clinic left no records that might show the extent of the scandal, the University of Utah said Tuesday.

A university hotline has received 17 calls in recent days about possible tampering with at the clinic once operated by .

Officials say they may never get to the bottom of a complaint that a convicted felon working at the clinic two decades ago switched his sperm, leaving a now 21-year-old woman asking, "Who am I?"

The mix-up happened in 1991, the clinic shut down the following year and the suspect died in 1999.

"Unfortunately, the reality of this very disturbing situation is that there is very little information with which to make any definitive conclusions," Kathy Wilets, a spokeswoman for the University of Utah's health sciences division, told The Associated Press in a statement.

She added, "We believe it is impossible to determine exactly what happened."

State and said they were unaware of the allegation and weren't certain it warranted an investigation.

The mother of the 21-year-old woman, Pamela Branum, has said she and her husband discovered a genetic mismatch in their daughter and were able to trace her lineage with help from relatives of the now-deceased worker, Thomas Ray Lippert.

Branum said she believes the university hasn't conducted a serious investigation and is trying to conceal the possibility of a wider scandal.

Wilets said the university is sharing as much information as it can offer the family.

The University of Utah had no ownership interest in the clinic, Reproductive Medical Technologies, but used some of its services. Three of the clinic's owners were faculty or staff members, and surviving partners have declined comment.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration regulates fertility clinics, but said it has been only a decade since regulations governing the handling and storage of reproductive tissues started taking effect.

An FDA spokeswoman couldn't immediately explain how semen banks are supposed to handle samples to avoid mix-ups.

"I thought I was this person (of) my mom and my dad," the family's daughter told CBS affiliate KUTV. "Now, my dad is not my biological father. Who am I?"

Explore further: SC free clinic model now replicated nationwide

Related Stories

SC free clinic model now replicated nationwide

November 27, 2013
What began two decades ago on Hilton Head Island as a free clinic using retired physicians and volunteers to care for the working poor has become a model for dozens of similar clinics nationwide. There are now 96 Volunteers ...

Fertility clinics help more gay couples have kids

October 16, 2013
Fertility clinics have put a new twist on how to make babies: A "two-mom" approach that lets female same-sex couples share the biological role. One woman's eggs are mixed in a lab dish with donor sperm, then implanted in ...

US abortion clinic fights law that may shut it

November 28, 2012
(AP)—Attorneys for Mississippi's only abortion clinic are again asking a federal judge to block a state law that could close the facility.

Romania: alleged illegal trafficking of human eggs

February 19, 2013
(AP)—Police questioned 30 people on Tuesday and searched the homes of six employees of a private fertility clinic who are suspected of illegally trafficking human eggs and selling them to Israeli couples with fertility ...

Only Miss. abortion clinic can't comply with law

January 12, 2013
Mississippi's only abortion clinic has missed a Friday deadline to comply with a new state law that requires each of its physicians to get hospital admitting privileges—a law the governor said he signed with the hopes of ...

US abortion clinic may be on way to closing

July 18, 2012
(AP) — Health officials have inspected Mississippi's only abortion clinic, the first step in a process that could lead to its closure if a new state law survives a legal challenge.

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.