- This month, two lawsuits have been filed against the LA-based CHA fertility center, by victims who said their embryos were mixed up – resulting in a woman carrying two strangers’ babies to term.
- INSIDER has since uncovered a prior lawsuit filed against CHA, in 2006, by a woman who alleged she had been seduced by the center’s former medical director, Dr. Thomas Kim.
- The woman alleged in her lawsuit, which was settled for an undisclosed amount in 2007, that Kim lied to her about how many eggs he had retrieved so he would continue seeing her.
- Kim told the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners that he and the patient had an intimate relationship.
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A Los Angeles fertility clinic has been hit with two lawsuits from clients who said their embryos were mixed up – resulting in a woman unknowingly getting pregnant with the babies of two stranger couples and carrying the boys to term.
Soon after welcoming the longed-for babies into the world in March, the mother had to give them up to their biological parents, who were blindsided by the new additions to their families.
INSIDER has since looked into CHA Fertility Center and discovered that the clinic has faced controversy in the past, when its former medical director had a sexual relationship with one of his patients.
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An inappropriate doctor-patient relationship
According to court records viewed by the LA Times at the time, patient Dr. Jo-Anne Biafore sued CHA and Dr. Thomas Kim in March 2006.
Biafore alleged in the lawsuit that Kim tried to seduce her when she first went to him for fertility treatment in August 2002. She said their relationship became sexual in June 2003, and continued until July 2005.
During their relationship, Biafore was having her eggs retrieved, and she said Kim lied to her about the number of eggs he had collected so she would keep coming back to him.
She said she suffered “extreme mental and emotional distress, humiliation, fear, and anger” when she learned the truth.
Biafore had asked for $8 million in damages from Kim and CHA, but the case was closed in June 2007 after the parties came to a settlement. The LA Times reported that the terms of the deal were confidential. CHA and Biafore did not immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment. Kim did not comment.
A medical board investigation
In February 2007, the LA Times reported that the Medical Board of California was investigating Kim for having a sexual relationship with a patient, which is illegal in the state.
It does not appear that he had his license taken away.
Around the time the case was settled, Kim moved to New Jersey.
Online records show he met with the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners to explain what happened back in California, so that he could get a license to practice medicine in New Jersey.
Kim explained that Biafore was a radiologist from Atlanta, Georgia, who contacted him “as a colleague to discuss cryopreservation and other fertility measures.”
He said they got into an intimate relationship and that Biafore requested Kim administer her fertility treatments. When Biafore got pregnant, Kim ended the relationship, he said. The record does not specify whether Biafore successfully carried the child to term, and if so – who was the father.
- Pichi Chuang/Reuters
“The matter was settled with no admission of wrongdoing at approximately the same time [Kim] moved to New Jersey,” the record states.
New Jersey officials corresponded with the Medical Board of California and learned that the “accusation” would not be filed and that the case was “closed.”
The New Jersey board said Kim could get a license to practice in the state, so long as he publicly admit to engaging in sexual misconduct.
At first, Kim tried to appeal that decision, but the board would not relent, so he agreed to the punishment and was given his license.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Kim worked in New Jersey for a decade, as director of third party reproduction at the Reproductive Medicine Associates (RMA) of New Jersey.
He appears to have transferred within the company last year, moving back to Los Angeles to work as the medical and laboratory director at the Reproductive Medicine Associates of Southern California.
The Medical Board of California shows that Kim’s license is active and due to expire in May 2020.
A pioneer in egg freezing
According to his profile on RMA’s website, Kim first got interested in reproductive endocrinology when he and his wife struggled to get pregnant when he was in the Navy.
He said they were referred to a civilian fertility clinic, since the Navy had no trained infertility specialists on the West Coast at the time. After 2 years, he and his wife became parents.
“It was an enlightening experience which piqued my interest in reproductive medicine and the technology that goes with it. I decided to change my career path to became a Reproductive Endocrinologist,” he said.
Following a fellowship training at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, Kim started the first military IVF program on the West Coast.
After leaving the Navy in 2001, Kim helped found the CHA fertility clinic in LA, and opened the first commercial bank to store women’s frozen eggs for later use, the LA Times reported.
- Read more:
- A couple is suing a fertility clinic after giving birth to two other couples’ babies. Here’s how that can happen.
- A fertility clinic is under fire after a woman gave birth to 2 other couples’ babies, but the scandal may be a symptom of a larger issue
- 10 things to know if you’re considering IVF as a fertility treatment
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