Attorneys: “Devastating Betrayal” Exposed By Christmas Gift Ancestry.com Kit; Further Testing Confirmed Sperm Used in Botched Procedure Was From Another Patient of Doctor at the Time.
AKRON, OH///FEBRUARY 2, 2022///Former fertility patients of Dr. Nicholas J. Spirtos at Summa Health System filed a major new lawsuit after a shocking revelation was discovered by an Ancestry.com DNA test. The couple had undergone an insemination procedure intended to fertilize the wife’s egg with the husband’s sperm. But due to an apparent mix-up of sperm samples, their daughter is not biologically related to the man who raised her. Attorneys for the family at the law firm Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane Conway & Wise (Peiffer Wolf) said further testing indicated the sperm came from a different patient of Spirtos.
The lawsuit was filed today in the Court of Common Pleas, Summit County, Ohio, against Summa Health System, Nicholas J. Spirtos, D.O. and Nicholas J. Spirtos, D.O., Inc.
Ashlie Case Sletvold, partner, Peiffer Wolf, said, “The Harveys placed their trust in Dr. Spirtos. And they want the truth about how this tragedy happened. Did Summa fail to properly clean its laboratory equipment? Was this the result of Summa’s mixing up patients’ sperm samples? The Harveys—and the public—deserve to know”.
In 1991 Jeanine and John “Mike” Harvey went to Dr. Nicholas J. Spirtos, who was serving as the Chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and In Vitro Fertilization/Embryo Transfer at Summa Akron City Hospital (now Summa Health System), for help conceiving a child. The couple opted to undergo an intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedure that would use Mr. Harvey’s sperm to fertilize Mrs. Harvey’s egg, with the clearly stated goal of having a child who was genetically related to both of them. Mrs. Harvey became pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl, Jessica Harvey Galloway.
Excited about potentially tracking down relatives on a trip to Europe, Jessica and her husband asked her parents for Ancestry.com kits for Christmas in 2020. The DNA-test results came back several weeks later with a disturbing discovery: Jessica was not biologically related to the only father she had ever known, Mr. Harvey. Genealogical research led Jessica to uncover the identity of her biological father, who confirmed he and his wife were patients of Dr. Spirtos’s at the same time as Mr. and Mrs. Harvey and agreed to a paternity test, which confirmed that he was Jessica’s biological father.
Jeanine Harvey made the following statement: “For us, and for countless unsuspecting families out there, it took just one Christmas gift – a home DNA test kit – to change our lives forever. It revealed a trauma that I never could have imagined. It’s taken every ounce of my power to remain strong for myself and my family as we try to move forward.”
Mike Harvey said: “As a husband and a father, it’s extremely difficult to watch your family in pain. And the source of the pain is something that I’ll never be able to change. Learning that your entire reality isn’t what you believed it to be is hard to explain. It’s like waking up in someone else’s life.”
Jessica Harvey Galloway said: “Leading up to Christmas in 2020, my husband and I were planning a trip to Europe. How cool – we thought – would it be to learn if we had family in the countries we’d be visiting. Maybe we could connect with our distant relatives. My parents got us Ancestry.com kits as Christmas gifts, and since then, our lives have never been the same – and never will be.”
As home DNA tests gain in popularity, numerous instances of fertility misconduct have come to light. These cases highlight the largely unregulated nature of the U.S. assisted reproductive technology industry. While a handful of states have enacted new laws that try to protect patients in some manner, there is no comprehensive oversight of this multi-billion-dollar industry.
Adam Wolf, partner, Peiffer Wolf, said: “This is why we often characterize the current state of regulation over the assisted reproductive technology industry as the ‘wild west’. Meaningful oversight is absent; error reporting is essentially non-existent; and tragic cases of lost, destroyed, or otherwise improperly handled embryos are on the rise. After several decades and thousands of fertility misconduct cases, we are still in the ‘wild west’ era. How many more people will have to share their heartbreaking stories before our legislators take this problem seriously?”
In August 2019, Peiffer Wolf published The Fertility Center Regulation Crisis in the U.S., a report calling on Congress to impose a system of tight and highly transparent fertility clinic oversight. In addition to identifying several glaring weaknesses and the general lack of regulatory oversight of the IVF/fertility centers in the U.S., the Peiffer Wolf report identified the much tougher government standards in the United Kingdom as an excellent model for this nation.
MEDIA CONTACT: Max Karlin at (216) 225-6765 or [email protected].
ABOUT PEIFFER WOLF CARR KANE CONWAY & WISE
Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane Conway & Wise is a national law firm with offices in Cleveland, Youngstown, New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, and St. Louis. https://peifferwolf.com/
EDITOR’S NOTE: The time-stamped court filing, related news release, and a streaming version of the February 2ndnews event will be available later that same day at www.LostEmbryos.com.