In Vitro Nightmare: Family discovers sperm switch after researching genealogy
SALT LAKE CITY – A couple who underwent artificial insemination at a Utah clinic finds out the husband’s sperm had been switched with someone else’s.
After a difficult search, the couple discovered the identity of the daughter’s biological dad and that part of the story is even more jaw dropping.
The family, who we will call Paula, Jeff and Ashley to protect their identities, thought it would be fun to do DNA testing.
When Paula got the results she was shocked.
” I felt my stomach just drop,” Paula said.
She opened the results on her computer to find her husband did not have any DNA matches with their couple’s daughter.
“When I called my daughter and my husband’s DNA up next to one another, they didn’t share any DNA at all and I just thought to myself, ‘Oh my God,’” Paula said.
“I was shaking,” she said about telling her husband the terrible news. “I said, ‘Jeff, you’re not going to believe this; it’s showing that you and Ashley are not related.’”
The couple said they began thinking the same thing.
Back in the early ’90s the pair was having trouble conceiving, so they went to Reproductive Medical Technologies, a clinic in Midvale, Utah, that is associated with the University of Utah.
In 1992 Ashley, now 21, was born.
With the recent revelations, the couple began to ask how this could happen.
They feared that perhaps there was a mix up at the clinic.
Paula tracked down a cousin of Ashley’s biological father using the genealogy she had acquired.
That cousin told her Thomas R. Lippert, her cousin, had worked at the very clinic where Paula had been inseminated.
“I remember that he was at the front desk a lot of the time,” Paula said.
She said Lippert, who was a part-time employee of the university from 1988 to 1994, had a stack of baby pictures behind his desk.
“He seemed friendly and was very proud of all those pictures; almost seemed like a brag board up there, those where the children that he had helped people have,” Paula said.
Lippert’s mother agreed to give a DNA sample and the result confirmed that Lippert was indeed Ashley’s father.
The question now is how all of this happened.
Paula said she suspects that Lippert, for some reason, may have switched his sperm sample with her husband’s.
“I just thought, ‘Oh my gosh,’ this was not an accident, this was intentional,” Paula said. “All those photos of the babies that he was so proud of, I thought, ‘Oh my God, how many of those are his biological children?’”
This story only gets more stunningly bizarre as the couple began digging into Lippert’s background.
They discovered, that prior to coming to work for the clinic, Lippert had served two years in prison for a high-profile kidnapping, where he is accused of snatching up a college co-ed and holding her for three weeks and conducting “love experiments,” that included locking her in a black box and using electroshock therapy on her to make her “fall in love with him.”
The University of Utah sent a statement to Utah’s KUTV:
Since April 2013, the University of Utah has been investigating credible information regarding the possible mislabeling or tampering of a semen sample at RMTI (Reproductive Medical Technologies, Inc.), a private andrology lab owned by a University faculty member (now deceased). The facility was a private laboratory located in Midvale, Utah. While not owned or operated by the University, the University contracted with RMTI for specimen preparation and semen analysis. Additionally, RMTI prepared semen samples for private physician offices throughout the community, not University physicians.
Through genetic testing, a woman who received artificial insemination (AI) in 1991 discovered the biological father of her child was not her husband, as she had assumed. She traced the genetics of her child to a man who was a former employee of the now-defunct RMTI, which may have prepared the AI sample. The man in question was also a part-time employee of the University from 1988-94.
There are no remaining records from RMTI to prove the claim and the man in question has been deceased since 1997. Consequently, it is unknown how this incident might have happened. In addition, there is no evidence to indicate this situation extends beyond the case in question.
We understand this information has been upsetting for the family and other clients of RMTI. We want to help alleviate this distress by providing professional genetic testing for RMTI clients who were treated between 1988 through 1994.
Concerned individuals can contact the University of Utah Andrology Lab at (801) 587-5852.”
Original story from Salt Lake City’s KUTV
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