Family members and health professionals in a corridor at the Puerta del Mar hospital in Cádiz.Edward Ruiz

The classic newborn family comment, “Who does mom or dad look like?” has ended in a complaint against the Andalusian Health Service (SAS) after a father discovered he is not the biological father of the baby. her son believed after IVF. The Andalusian family —whose place of residence has not been revealed— demands compensation of one million euros from the Andalusian Administration for what it considers a “very serious error”, as revealed by the association El Defensor del Patient, an entity specialized in protecting the interests of the families affected for medical malpractice.

“It was a real shock for the parents,” explains the family’s attorney and association member, Ignacio Martínez. The lawyer filed a property administrative action against the SAS on March 14 against the Hospital Universitario Puerta del Mar in Cádiz after the parents discovered the alleged error last February following a series of “chance events”. This first judicial diligence, if the administration does not give a response or is not what was expected, may give rise to proceedings at the Administrative Litigation Court. For now, the Minister of Health, Catalina García, assured that the incident is being investigated and that responsibilities will be determined, reports Eva Saiz.

The facts go back to when the young couple residing in Andalusia —according to the scant data provided by their lawyer at the couple’s express request— entered the waiting list for assisted reproduction in 2019. Two years later, on March 15, 2021, they finally managed to a consultation to collect the eggs for in vitro fertilization and three days later the embryo transfer took place, according to Cadena SER Cádiz. The process went well and, after a “normal pregnancy”, the child was born that same year. “Until that moment, we were dealing with a couple who had fulfilled their dream of having a child together —or at least that was what they believed—”, details the complaint before the SAS that EL PAÍS had access to.

The first symptoms of parental distrust began with “repeated” comments from family members that indicated the lack of physical resemblance to the father. But the first test came after an acquaintance with medical knowledge had access to the child’s birth certificate and realized that the baby’s blood group made the fact that he was the biological child of the two “incompatible”. “A double filiation was not possible”, explains Martínez. Shocked by the alert and after checking medical pages on the internet, the parents opted for a paternity test on the child. The opinion determined that the mother was his biological father, but not his father. “The result was communicated to the family on February 27, 2023 and was devastating for the family”, details the complaint.

“The worst thing is that we know what is there now, but not where it can end up”, explains the lawyer. The lawyer refers to the possibility that the alleged error led another family to also receive a wrong fertilization. “Yes [el semen] It belongs to a donor, the impact is limited, but if it comes from another family we could be talking about two slightly changed children”, says Martínez worriedly. In fact, the association El Defensor del Patient has changed its usual pattern of reporting cases, since it has obtained court decisions to detail the case at the beginning, in case it is necessary to modify some protocol or take some measure, the lawyer also points out. “It is deduced that a serious error was committed by the Andalusian public health, presumably in the handling of the husband’s semen sample during the said fertilization process”, point out from the entity.

The family claimed one million euros in compensation from the SAS for what they consider “serious and irreparable damage” to the minor and his parents, according to the lawsuit. “Due to genetic reasons, we do not know the repercussions this may have on the child. In addition, it will have an impact on the little one when they have to count and the family will not have the same cohesion now ”, denounces Martínez. The lawyer claims to be facing a case so “unprecedented” that in the jurisprudential arguments of the case -to determine compensation- he had to resort to a case of the Superior Court of Justice of Navarre of 2022 for an erroneous exchange of babies. Now, the association has decided to publicize the case to try to prevent alleged mistakes like this from happening again: “It is obvious that what happened can no longer be fixed, but perhaps knowing around the world will prevent it from happening again”.