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Couple believes samples switched at fertility clinic 20 years ago

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(CNN) -- A couple who underwent artificial insemination at a Utah clinic finds out 20 years later that the husband's sperm had been switched with someone else's! After a difficult search, the couple found out who their daughter's biological father is -- and that part of the story is even more jaw dropping!

For Paula, Jeff and their daughter Ashley -- it seemed like so much fun. For $99 and a cheek swab, the website 23andMe.com could trace one's lineage back 10,000 years!

"I was looking forward to getting the results back," Paula said.

When Paula took a look at the results -- she made a shocking discovery. She learned Jeff and Ashley were not related.

"I felt my stomach just drop. When I called my daughter and my husband's DNA up next to one another they didn't share any DNA at all -- and I just thought to myself: 'Oh my God.' I was shaking. 'I have to tell you something.' I said 'Jeff, you're not going to believe this. It's showing that you and Ashley are not related. You share no DNA,'" Paula said.

In the early 90s, Jeff and Paula couldn't get pregnant, so they received artificial insemination at Reproductive Medical Technologies -- a clinic associated with the University of Utah.

In 1992, Ashley was born.

But now -- the question: Who is Ashley's father?

Paula and Jeff thought: Is it possible someone at the clinic made a mistake with their samples?

"I had to come to a realization at that moment that this what I was looking at was true, and that the unthinkable and the unbelievable was true," Paula said.

Paula, using the genealogy, tracked down a cousin of Ashley's biological father, who told her that a man by the name of Thomas R. Lippert had worked at the very clinic where Paula had been inseminated.

"I remember that he was at the front desk a lot of the time," Paula said.

Lippert also worked in the lab, and kept a collection of baby pictures behind his desk.

"He seemed friendly and was very proud of all those pictures -- almost seemed like a brag board up there. Those where the children that he had helped people have," Paula said.

Lippert's mother agreed to a DNA swab, and the result confirmed that Lippert was indeed Ashley's father.

But how?

Paula thinks Lippert switched his sample with Jeff's.

"All those photos of the babies that he was so proud of I thought 'oh my God, how many of those are his biological children?'" Paula said.

But this story only gets more stunning.

Tom Lippert, before working at RMT from 1986 through 1995 was a college professor who served two years in prison for a high-profile kidnapping case that made national headlines.

In 1975, he snatched up a college co-ed, and kept her for three weeks -- allegedly conducting love experiments by keeping her in a black box and using electroshock therapy on her to make her fall in love with him.

Now, Paula and Jeff are speaking out because they think other couples may have been victims of Lippert's possible switches as well.

"I keep telling myself we wouldn't have our daughter if it wasn't for what happened to us so I just balance everything out with that, because nothing is better than our daughter," Paula said.

The University of Utah has been investigating the case for several months.

It released a statement saying Lippert died in 1997, and the fertility clinic records no longer exist.

The school is providing genetic testing for the clinic's clients who were treated between 1988 through 1994.

11 comments

  • Dave Schneider

    Exclamation points? The story is about a person messing up family’s What if they need med information?

  • Bryan

    Seriously? You are asking about exclamation points? (Which by the way there are only 2). If you mean quotation marks than maybe you need to go back to school and realize that direct quotes must have them. Can’t believe there are people who read a story such as this and think it’s a good idea to leave a comment like “What’s with all the exclamation points? Ugh”

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  • .

    How devastating. My heart goes out to the family. I’m sure they don’t love Ashley any less because of it. Too bad that clown is dead, it would be nice if he could face charges on this matter.

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