Thursday, February 10, 2022

Fertility clinic mixup

Decades after a fertility treatment led to the birth of their daughter, Jeanine and John “Mike” Harvey have alleged that a stranger’s sperm was used 

About 30 years after first visiting a fertility doctor, a simple Christmas gift changed everything for one family.  

Jeanine and John "Mike" Harvey allege that a mixup during an intrauterine insemination procedure resulted in the couple welcoming a child who is not biologically related to her father, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday. 

In 1991, Jeanine and Mike became fertility patients of Dr. Nicholas J. Spirtos, who was then working 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), according to the complaint.  

"Our goal couldn't have been clearer," Jeanine said during a press conference held on Wednesday. "We wanted a child who is genetically related to both of us." 

However, she claims that without their knowledge, Spirtos "used a stranger's sperm instead of my husband's." 

The couple as well as their daughter, Jessica Harvey Galloway, are suing Spirtos and Summa Health System, accusing them of malpractice, negligence and fraud, among other things.  

"We are aware of an allegation that has been made claiming in 1991 a patient was artificially inseminated with the semen from a person who is not her husband. We take this allegation seriously and understand the impact this has on the family," Mike Bernstein, system director of Corporate Communications for Summa Health System, said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. 

"At this point, we have not met with the family or conducted testing of our own. Given the very limited information that we have and the amount of time that has passed, it remains our hope that the attorneys representing the family will work with us to make that next step a priority," Bernstein added. 

Spirtos, which currently operates an independent fertility center in Ohio, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.  

After the IUI procedure — which is less expensive than IVF and involves sperm being placed directly in a patient's uterus, per Hopkins Medicine — the couple became pregnant, welcoming daughter Jessica in 1992.  

"Harvey girls were very rare in the family, so we were so excited," Jeanine said at the press conference. "I screamed and scared the doctors half to death when she was born."  

For almost 30 years the family "had no reason to think that Jessica was not ours," Jeanine said. 

But their "world upside down" after Jessica's parents purchased DNA tests for Jessica and her husband for Christmas in 2020. 

As Jessica and her husband prepared for a trip to Europe, they wanted to use the tests to first learn more about their extended family's origins. 

"How cool, we thought, it would be to connect with distant relatives in the countries that we might be visiting," Jessica said during the press conference. 

The test revealed that Jessica "has no genetic relation" to her father, according to the complaint. 

"Subsequent investigation revealed that her biological father is a man who, along with his wife, was undergoing fertility treatments with Dr. Spritos at Summa Akron City Hospital at the same time as the Harveys," per the complaint. 

The discovery was difficult for the entire Harvey family to process, and brought up a number of additional questions — including what happened to Mike's sperm.   

"No one should have to experience what we've been through," Jessica said during the press conference. 

Although so much has changed for the family, there's one thing that never will: their love for one another.  

"Mike's my husband. Jessica's our daughter. There's no DNA test that will change this," Jeanine said during the press conference. "We as a family hope that by sharing our family, putting our private lives out there in the public eye that we might be able to help others and prevent this from happening to them."



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