For Christmas in 2020, Jessica Harvey Galloway asked her parents for a DNA test, hoping to find distant relatives during a planned trip to Italy with her husband.
- A lawsuit in the US alleges a fertility clinic used the wrong sperm in a fertility procedure
- The woman at the centre of the allegation says a genealogy test showed her father was not her biological parent
- The family says their world has been turned upside down by the discovery
But instead of an Italian branch to her genetic family tree, the 30-year-old discovered a shocking mistake when the genealogy results came back.
She shared none of her father’s Italian heritage. They had completely different DNA.
According to a lawsuit filed in the US state of Ohio, Mike Harvey, the man who helped raise Ms Galloway along with her mother, Jeanine, was not her biological father because another man’s sperm was used during a fertility procedure.
“Since then, our lives will never be the same,” Ms Galloway said during a virtual news conference with the family and their attorneys on Wednesday.
Speaking to her parents, Ms Galloway said: “No matter what, you are always my family.”
The family has sued Nicholas Spirtos, the fertility specialist who performed the procedure in 1991, and the Ohio-based Summa Health System.
Family finds biological father through own investigation
The procedure the Harveys underwent was intrauterine insemination, which involves inserting sperm directly into a woman’s uterus to increase the likelihood of fertilisation.
A message seeking comment was left with Dr Spirtos on Wednesday.
“We take this allegation seriously and understand the impact this has on the family,” Summa Health System spokesperson Mike Bernstein said in an emailed statement.
Mr Bernstein added that hospital officials had not met with the family or conducted their own testing.
“Given the very limited information that we have, it remains our hope that the attorneys representing the family will work with us to make that next step a priority,” he said.
Attorney Ashlie Case Sletvold said on Wednesday her firm first reached out to Dr Spirtos and the hospital system seven months ago, offering to share medical records and paternity test results but it did not receive a response.
Ms Galloway, through her own investigation and the help of her attorneys, eventually found her biological father.
The man and his wife were undergoing in vitro fertilisation treatment at the same hospital where the Harveys were being treated by Dr Spirtos.
Ms Galloway said she had communicated with her biological father via text but had not met him.
Jeanine Harvey said the news of her daughter’s biological paternity had been overwhelming.
“It’s difficult to explain my feelings,” she said.
“I still struggle sleeping at night thinking about it.
Mike Harvey said he found it “extremely difficult to watch your family in pain”.
“And the source of the pain is something that I’ll never be able to change,” he said.
“Learning that your entire reality isn’t what you believed it to be is hard to explain. It’s like waking up in someone else’s life.”
The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages and an order requiring Dr Spirtos and Summa Health to find Mike Harvey’s genetic material or account for its location.