A woman in the United States has discovered that more than 36 years ago, her mother’s fertility specialist used his own semen in the process to assist her mother become pregnant.
The Washington Post reports that Kelli Rowlette, 36, sent a DNA sample to the genealogy site Ancestry.com, but thought a mistake had been made when she received the results, which stated that the DNA was a match with a man she hadn’t heard of – not the man she believed to be her father.
But her mother recognised the name immediately – because it was the fertility specialist who had helped her become pregnant with her daughter.
Devastated by this breach of trust and duty of care, The Washington Post reports that Rowlette has filed a law suit in U.S. District Court in Idaho. The suit accuses Gerald E. Mortimer, a now-retired obstetrician in Idaho Falls, of fraud and medical negligence.
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According to The Washington Post, the suit explains that Rowlette’s parents, Howard Fowler and Sally Ashby, were not able to conceive a baby naturally, and so sought the help of Mortimer, who suggested reproductive assistance.
The couple agreed that Sally would be inseminated with both sperm from her husband and an anonymous donor, and that the donor should be college-educated, tall, and have brown hair and brown eyes.
Mortimer promised he’d found such a donor. But the lawsuit states that when Mortimer performed the procedure in 1980, he used his own sperm instead.
Even more strangely, Mortimer delivered his own child, and never told Rowlette’s parents about what he’d done – despite remaining Sally’s doctor for several years until she moved interstate.
“Dr. Mortimer cried when Ms. Ashby informed him they were moving,” The Washington Post reports the lawsuit says. “Dr. Mortimer knew Kelli Rowlette was his biological daughter but did not disclose this to Ms. Ashby or Mr. Fowler.”
When Rowlette received the DNA report from Ancestry.com, her mother didn’t reveal what she suspected, but contacted her former husband, Howard. After much consideration, they decided not to reveal the truth to their daughter.
However, soon after, Rowlette discovered her own birth certificate – and recognised the delivery doctor as the man named on the DNA report.
It’s reported the lawsuit details that the news has been devastating to Rowlette, Sally and Howard. The family is now suing Mortimer and the obstetrics practice in Idaho Falls.
We can imagine that Mortimer has suffered in the years since his biological daughter was taken interstate; but hope that his explanation for his actions in a court of law can bring some peace to a family in turmoil.