A woman allegedly discovered her biological father was the fertility doctor her parents used to conceive her in 1980 through an Ancestry.com DNA test, according to a lawsuit filed this week. Mortimer said Rowlette's mother, Sally Ashby, had a tipped uterus, and diagnosed Ashby's husband, Howard Fowler, with a low sperm count and low sperm motility. According to court documents, Dr. Mortimer cried when Ms. Ashby told him they were moving, knowing that Kelli Rowlette was his biological daughter.
The family is suing Dr Mortimer and Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates of Idaho Falls, accusing them of medical negligence, fraud, battery, negligent infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.
Ancestry.com's Chief Privacy Officer Eric Health told USA TODAY that while Ancestry.com does help to "make new and powerful discoveries about their family history and identity", it also might lead to "unexpected connections".
"Since discovering Dr Mortimer's actions, Ms Ashby, Mr Fowler and Mrs Rowlette have been suffering immeasurably", the complaint states.
She said she was "horrified and contacted her parents in a panic".
To increase chances of fertility, the couple agreed to mix the husband's sperm with other matching donors, noting they preferred college students more than 180cm tall.
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After agreeing to pay Dr. Mortimer to perform the specified procedure, Dr. Mortimer collected genetic material from Mr. Fowler to perform the procedure over several sessions.
IUI - intrauterine insemination or artificial insemination - is a fertility treatment that involves directly inserting sperm into a woman's womb.
Instead, Ancestry.com had predicted a parent-child relationship between Rowlette and a reproductive specialist 500 miles away named Dr. Gerald E. Mortimer.
The Ancestry.com DNA test provides customers with likely genetic matches for those interested in genealogy. Dr Mortimer has not commented publicly on the case.
Court documents show Rowlette learned who Mortimer was after her parents told her about the procedure and Mortimer's role as her mother's obstetrician. It was her birth certificate, and according to the lawsuit, she noticed a familiar name signed on it: "Dr. Mortimer".
On May 20, 1981, Ms. Ashby gave birth to Kelli Rowlette (maiden name, Kelli Fowler).
"Based on what we know from what's been reported, and the knowledge of how our system works, it's possible that both biological mother and father both took the test, and that the child did as well, however without further details we can not speculate on individual cases", Melissa Garrett, a spokeswoman for Ancestry.com, wrote in an email.