Science is amazing.
A couple in the US, who had a paternity test after their son’s blood type didn’t match that of either parents, have been surprised to find out that the biological father of the little boy was actually his uncle.
An uncle who was never born.
Buzzfeed reports that in June 2014, the baby boy was born with the help of IVF. After he was born, the couple were told that their son’s blood type did not match either the father or his partner. Understandably disturbed, they undertook an at-home paternity test which showed that the man wasn’t actually the father of the child.
Barry Starr, a geneticist at Stanford University, told Buzzfeed that they were upset. “They thought the clinic had used the wrong sperm.”
They hired a lawyer and went to an accredited lab for a more precise paternity test, which just like the at-home test relied on the father’s cheek cells for a swab.
Again, the test came back negative for paternity.
The couple then approached the fertility clinic who said that it could not be their fault as the 34-year-old father was the only white man to donate sperm on the day their son was conceived.
So the couple decided to undergo a genetic ancestry test through Barry Starr and they were shocked at the findings: the biological father of the baby was actually his uncle — an uncle who only ever existed as a lost twin.
The man’s sperm was found to have 10 per cent of a genetic match to the infant. The genes in his sperm were different to that in his saliva meaning that the father of the boy is effectively the man’s own unborn twin.
“That was kind of a eureka moment,” said Starr. He said that then he realised they might be dealing with a chimera.
“Chimera reports are very rare but they are real.”
Chimeras occur when the DNA from a miscarried sibling is absorbed by the surviving embryo, leaving parts of its DNA in the survivor. Around one in eight pregnancies start out with multiple embryos that miscarry, most go undetected until a genetic test is performed.
Well documented chimera cases in the past include Karen Keegan from Boston who found that her blood cells had one set of genes and her ovaries held distinctly different ones. Those ovaries had produced the eggs that led to two of Keegan’s sons holding genes different from her own.