An Ancestry.com DNA test last year revealed to a woman that her parent’s fertility doctor is actually her father, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday in connection with a lawsuit the woman has filed.
Kelli Rowlette filed the federal lawsuit in Idaho last week against now retired obstetrician gynecologist Gerald E. Mortimer, accusing him of fraud and medical negligence, the Post said.
Rowlette didn’t know her mother Sally Ashby was artificially inseminated to conceive her in the early 1980s – supposedly with the sperm of her husband at the time, Howard Fowler, in a mixture with the sperm of an anonymous donor who was supposed to match the couple’s specifications, the Post said.
ABC News reported that Mortimer worked at Obstetrics & Gynecology Associates in Idaho Falls – which is also being sued – and that Mortimer recommended a procedure in which 85 percent of Fowler’s sperm was to be mixed with 15 percent from the anonymous donor in order to “increase the chances of conception,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit charged that Mortimer used his own sperm without the couple’s knowledge and that he did not match the specifications of being over 6 feet tall and with brown hair and blue eyes. The suit said Moritmer continued to treat Ashby until she and her husband moved to Washington state.
It was not until Rowlette took the Ancestry.com DNA test in July 2017 that the secret artificial insemination and Mortimer’s alleged actions came to light, the Post wrote, according to the lawsuit.
Rowlette initially blamed Ancestry.com for what she believed was a mistake and shared the DNA results with her mother, who recognized Mortimer as her former doctor.
“Ms. Ashby contacted Mr. Fowler, now her ex-husband, and relayed the information she obtained from Ancestry.com,” the lawsuit stated, per the Post. “Mr. Fowler was also devastated by the news.”
The couple, now divorced, kept Mortimer’s identity a secret from Rowlette until the daughter discovered the doctor’s name on her birth certificate.
According to ABC News, the lawsuit charged that had either Ashby or Fowler known that Mortimer was going to use his own sperm, “they would not have agreed to the procedure.”
Mortimer could not be reached for comment, according to the Post and ABC News.
Ancestry.com issued a statement after the story broke stating: “We are committed to delivering the most accurate results, however with this, people may learn of unexpected connections. With Ancestry, customers maintain ownership and control over their DNA data. Anyone who takes a test can change their DNA matching settings at any time, meaning that if they opt out, their profile and relationship will not be visible to other customers.”
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