A California couple whose son was born to a New York woman following a shocking IVF blunder have reached a settlement with the fertility clinic responsible.
Anni and Ashot Manukyan sued CHA Fertility Clinic in July after their son was born March 31 to a mother in Queens, along with another baby from a different couple.
In a devastating mix-up, two fertilized embryos, one belonging to the Manyukans, had been wrongly implanted into a Korean-American IVF patient, with the mistake only realized when she gave birth to two Caucasian boys instead of the twin girls she had been expecting.
The Manukyans, who live in Los Angeles, were then forced to enter a grueling legal battle in New York court to get custody of their son after the woman who carried and delivered him wanted to keep him.
They were granted custody in May when the child, whom they named Alec, was six weeks old, after DNA tests proved they were his biological parents.
The couple then sued the fertility clinic, seeking damages to cover their emotional loss and the $100,000 they spent on their care and travel while sorting out the ordeal.
Court documents reported by the New York Daily News on Thursday confirmed that they'd reached an undisclosed settlement with a 'strict confidentiality provision'.
The Manukyans asked the judge to approve the settlement's 'minor's compromise' clause, which allows an adult to sign on behalf of a child so the child can receive money.
A hearing on that matter is set for January 3.
CHA Fertility Clinic is also facing lawsuits from the other two couples embroiled in the IVF mishap.
The Manukyans opened up about the traumatic experience back in July after filing their the lawsuit.
The couple described the bittersweet moment the woman who carried their child for nine months finally handed him over to his biological parents after the taxing custody battle.
'We were hysterically crying, all four of us,' Anni said of the heartbreaking meeting with the woman and her husband, identified in court documents as A.P. and Y.Z. 'They were saying "we're sorry, we're so sorry.
'We should have let you guys come and take him before, it's just that we love them. We wanted to take care of them as they were our own. We love them.'
'There was no tension in the room whatsoever. It felt like we were friends… It was just love, because we all have love of the same child,' the New York Post reports.
The Korean-American woman had given birth to their son, prematurely, on March 31, alongside another baby boy - at first assumed to be a twin, but later found to be the biological son of a third, unrelated couple whose embryo was also wrongly implanted.
When the couple handed over the baby in May, they also handed over a series of gifts for the Manukyans', including gold bracelets, one celebrating the Year of the Pig and another with a crown; and a ring emblazoned with tiny baby shoes.
She had also saved the baby's umbilical cord, a tradition in A.P.'s Asian culture, and wanted to ensure it went with him, along with a tiny pink pillow from her mother, Anni said.
'I would like you to give this to him, to know it's from me,' A.P. told Manukyan. 'I think I'll keep that pink pillow forever.'
A week after giving Anni and Ashot their baby, A.P. and Y.Z. relinquished Alec's 'twin' to his biological family.
The couple claimed they were unsure of whether they would ever see their baby, but finally got to meet him on Mother's Day weekend.
Anni told The New York Post: 'We were so anxious to get him. I would cut off my right leg to have him in my arms.'
In the seven weeks between learning of news and reclaiming baby Alec, Anni and Ashot said they were not allowed to know anything about their son, or the couple raising him - nor anything about his pre- or post-natal nutrition, care, or progress.
DNA results had confirmed that the New York-born baby genetically belonged to the Manukyans.
When they were finally able to file their custody petition in mid-May, they flew to New York and spent 11 days waiting for a verdict.
But Anni told The New York Post that the Korean-American birth mother had fought to keep both of the babies. In a heartbreaking letter she had written she said: 'I kiss his little feet every day. I give him a bath. I breast fed him,' she wrote.
'We’re their true parents and we’re the ones who want to be with him. We love them, they’re ours and they’re twins, they shouldn’t be separated.
'They snuggle with each other, they sleep with each other every night. How could you separate them?.'
A psychiatrist informed the Manukyans that they should hand over their pillowcases so their son could become accustomed to their smell, and recordings of Anni reading.
She revealed: 'My voice was shuddering while I was doing it. It was just heart shattering. Me and my husband, we wondered what if the pillows we slept on, what if the scent wasn’t enough? We were hugging the pillowcases just to make sure,' she claimed.
Both couples finally met in a New York courtroom on May 10, and a judge had ordered everyone out given the sensitivity of the case.
Anni recalled: 'They came in and they were crying, and I saw them crying and I started bawling. My husband was trying to hold me. Even the security guard was crying.'
Anni claimed that she broke down as the judge gave his verdict, saying: 'DNA is DNA and genetics play a big role in everything, so the baby belongs with Anni and Ashot.'
The Manukyans' lawyer Eric Wrubel claimed that both couples sobbed, adding 'neither couple could speak.'
The judge recommended that the Manukyans first have two six-hour visits with their newborn over the weekend, before he was finally given to them on Monday.
'DNA is DNA and genetics play a big role in everything, so the baby belongs with Anni and Ashot Manukyan,' the judge said in his ruling.
They went to celebrate by having drinks and then spent $600 buying new baby clothes and other essentials for their son in Union Square.
Wrubel hired a town car to take the baby from the Queens couple’s home to their hotel. Anni reveaIed: 'I had a big ass blanket, it was raining in New York and I don’t want my baby to get sick.
'When the car pulled up, I was running, my husband had the umbrella over my head we just ran and grabbed him.'
'I opened the blanket that was on top of him and I didn’t know what to feel, my emotions were all — I was crying. He was so tiny, he was so delicate. I just held him for six hours.'
The couple met the Queens birth mother on Monday in a hotel room, with Anni saying: 'I need[ed] to thank her personally, because she deserves that.
'She carried my child for nine months, she fed him, she took care of him, she changed his diapers. It could have ended up differently.
'I pray for her every day,' Anni said, referring to the Korean-American New York mom who carried Alec.
'She was a victim of this as much as I am. She's a lovely lady. She raised my baby inside of her and after he was born.'
The Manukyans told reporters in July that they were unaware they had a son until the clinic contacted them out of the blue to obtain their DNA so that it could determine whether the child born to the New York couple was theirs.
Adding insult to injury, Anni later learned that she had been implanted with an embryo -- which failed to result in a pregnancy -- belonging to another couple who were also clients of the fertility clinic.
According to a lawsuit Anni and Ashot filed against the clinic on Wednesday: 'Their anxiety was unbearable. Anni developed a stress-related illness that was physically very painful.
'She was admitted to hospital, where she stayed for two days. Both Anni and Ashot began to see psychologists to help grapple with their stress and worry.'
The New York couple was the first to file a case against CHA Fertility Center, seeking damages to cover their emotional loss and the $100,000 they spent on their care and travel.
The Korean-American couple, who identified themselves only as YZ and AP in a lawsuit they filed against CHA last week, married in 2012, and struggled to conceive for years before turning to IVF.
After plenty of research, they found CHA Fertility Center, which they had been assured was one of the top clinics in the country, according to their lawsuit.
As is the case for all couples embarking on eye-wateringly expensive fertility treatment, they were desperate, but they were happy with co-owners Dr Joshua Berger and Simon Hong after their meeting.
They embarked on the months of treatments - hormones, vitamins, test after test - to yield eight embryos, which is shy of the recommended 12, but an acceptable number.
Their care and travel totaled $100,000. The average cost of one cycle of IVF is $12,000 plus up to $3,000 for the medication, though research shows couples rarely yield enough embryos on the first try.
Their first attempt at implantation in July 2018 failed. In August, the couple decided to try again, thawing two of their female embryos. And it was a success: they were pregnant with twins in September.
According to court papers, the couple were 'confused' when sonograms showed twin boys, because they had only fertilized female embryos.
Berger and Hong tried to reassure the couple, saying that sonograms were 'not a definitive test.'
Then, they delivered two white boys. The lawsuit says that the couple were victims of an 'unimaginable mishap' - so much so that they 'could not find the courage and the way to tell others about their devastating loss.'
The ordeal has left AP and YZ with 'permanent emotional injuries from which they will not recover,' according to the lawsuit.
They 'may never know what happened to their embryos, as well as whether the currently cryopreserved embryos are genetically matched to them,' court papers state. They are seeking unspecified damages.
The clinic is not commenting on the matter, and the third couple has not spoken out.
CHA refuses to comment on what happened, though they confirmed that all of the couples confirmed were in the clinic on August 20, 2018 for their implantation.
Their attorney Adam Wolf, of Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane, said: 'This incredible series of events demonstrates CHA's shocking incompetence. While I have handled hundreds of cases of fertility-center misconduct, this tragedy at CHA is among the most egregious I have seen.
'Anni and Ashot put all their faith and trust in CHA. In return, CHA gave Anni and Ashot lies, excuses and heartbreak. We will not rest until this multinational corporation is held accountable.'
He added: 'It's fair to assume there are far more fertility clinic tragedies that happen than we know.'