The worst nightmare of any family using a fertility clinic: their semen sample was switched with someone else’s–and it may not have been an accident. Not only that, but the person believed to have made the switch was a convicted criminal working as a technician at the clinic and it might not have been the only time he did such a thing.
As The Huffington Post reports, a Utah couple, known Jeff and Pam, were doing personal DNA testing, when they learned their daughter’s DNA did not match her father’s.
“I felt my stomach just drop… When I brought… my daughter’s and my husband’s DNA up next to one another that’s when it said… they didn’t share any DNA at all. And I said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but it’s showing that you’re not related, that you share no DNA.’” Pamela tells Salt Lake City CBS affiliate KUTV.
The couple immediately thought of how they had conceived their daughter, Annie, in 1992. They had trouble getting pregnant and tried artificial insemination at a clinic associated with the University of Utah. Now, they wondered if someone had made a mistake with their sample all those years ago.
Using the DNA information from the genetic testing company 23andMe, Pam tracked down a cousin who shared the same DNA as Annie’s unknown father. That person told Pam that Thomas Lippert had worked at the clinic where Pam had been inseminated.
Pam tells KUTV she remembered him working at the front desk a lot. He also worked in the lab. Not only that, but Pam remembered him keeping a bunch of baby photos from women who had been inseminated behind his desk at the clinic. His mother agreed to a DNA swab and the results show he is Ashley’s biological father.
“All those baby photos he was so proud of and I thought, Oh my God, how many of those babies were his biological children?” Pam says that’s why her family is speaking out–to warn people who were treated at the clinic around the same time. Not only that, but Pam’s husband worries about his own sample and what happened to it. “My husband wants to know where’s his sample. Does he have a child out there that we don’t know about?” Pam tells KUTV.
It gets even more bizarre. The family has also learned that Tom Lippert was convicted of charges relating to kidnapping and served two years in prison before ever even working at the clinic. As People reports, Lippert was a law professor at Southwest State College in Marshall, Minnesota, at the age of 25. Police say he kidnapped 21-year-old Susan Cochran and kept her for three weeks, using electroshock therapy in an attempt to brainwash her into falling in love with him. He later pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
Answers from Lippert are never going to come. Lippert has since died, the clinic has long been out of business and there are no remaining records to prove or disprove how the incident might have happened or if it may have happened to other people. However, The University of Utah will provide genetic testing for anyone who used the clinic from 1988 to 1994.
Now, Jeff, Pam and Annie are working to accept their new reality.
“We wouldn’t have our daughter if it wasn’t for what happened to us so I just balance out everything with that,” Pam told KUTV. “And nothing is better than our daughter.”
You can watch the local news report from Utah in the video below.
Top image: attainfertility.com
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