If you missed this gem of a news item, I can’t wait to be the one to share this crazy recent story hitting the headlines.
A man in Washington recently failed a paternity test due to a very strange and wild medical phenomenon.
Despite the fact that the couple underwent IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) and his and ONLY HIS sperm was cleaned and carefully inserted into his partner’s body, he failed to match the correct chromosome markers in their baby.
So clearly this was a mess-up or she was cheating, right? Well if it was that it would hardly make all the headlines. This case was detailed in a study by geneticist Barry Starr at Stanford University.
Why did he fail?
So let’s go back to the beginning here.
This couple was struggling with secondary fertility after already having a child. So they went to a fertility clinic.
The clinic administered the IUI, where his sperm was washed and carefully chosen before being inserted directly into the mother’s uterus during ovulation.
This is what happened
The procedure was successful and nine months later a baby boy was born. Yay!
So where did things go awry? Well, the baby’s blood type was AB yet both the mother and father were blood type A. Is that possible? No. Okay okay don’t panic yet, they thought. We’ll do some paternity tests.
So they carried out two paternity tests and – to their utter confusion – both came back negative. The man did not appear to be the baby’s father.
This sent up some panic – what could that possibly mean? I’m pretty sure the doctors were first pointing to one of two logical real world explanations.
- Lawsuit – we messed up the sperm samples! Or
- She slept with someone else.
“Both parents [were] A, but the child [was] AB,” said Barry Starr, a geneticist at Stanford University. “There are rare cases where that can happen, but their first thought was that the clinic had mixed up sperm samples.”
Well the only other couple that was doing their IUI at a similar time was an African-American couple so it didn’t seem likely that there was any sort of mix-up considering the baby’s appearance didn’t indicate that.
So the couple went home, had a heart to heart, and concluded something was up with those paternity tests. So their attorney called up a Stanford University geneticist and decided to do one of the most advanced genetics tests you could do.
What the Genetic Tests Revealed
The new 23andMe genetic test was much more thorough and would determine whether there was even a family connection somewhere.
What they discovered in the results completely shocked them. The 23andMe test revealed that the man was genetically the baby’s uncle. But wait…he had never had a brother except…well…
The man who provided his sperm for the IUI procedure, was a chimera.
Wait, a chimera? Aren’t those the mythological creatures with the fusion of different animals? Well yes, but they’re also a person who has two sets of DNA.
One set was his own, the other his unborn twin brother’s. Apparently his mother was carrying fraternal twins when she had him but his twin brother had not survived. The man had absorbed some of his brother’s DNA – approximately 10% – and so he carried his brother’s DNA as a minor “genome”. This 10% of his sets of DNA, just happened to be the ones in the sperm that successfully fertilized his partner’s egg.
So sure enough, another regular paternity test was performed with the unborn twin brother’s DNA (taken from the man but carefully picked out). This was a match.
If you are like me, you did not even think something like this was possible! This is a medical geek’s daydream. I like the story because it’s a kind of happy ending for the couple. The father found out something very special about himself, as did his family, and he was able to pass that to his child. Now their other child has a brother and cousin at the same time, and he has a nephew and son in the same person. He himself is partially his own brother! Even Barry Starr said:
“So the father is the fusion of two people, both the child’s father and uncle. That’s wicked cool.”
It’s definitely the happiest ending that could happen for a failed paternity test. Perhaps we’ll have to bring back all those Maury guests and redo all those tests!
Plus if this isn’t a real life Twilight Zone episode, I don’t know what is!
Thank you for reading: Man Who Fails Paternity Test Learns Astonishing Truth. For further reading on this remarkable story, click here.