Practices at two now-closed Salt Lake-area clinics came into
question last year when Pamela Branum, who was artificially
inseminated at Reproductive Medical Technologies Inc, claimed
genetic testing revealed that, instead of her husband, a lab
technician had fathered their daughter in the early 1990s.
The technician, Tom Lippert, has since died.
The committee of three university physicians, tasked with
reviewing the case and making recommendations to the
institution, said in a report released on Thursday that it was
unclear how the Branum switch occurred or whether it was
accidental or done on purpose.
“Either explanation is unacceptable from the perspective of the
committee and, presumably, the Branums and any other couples who
might be similarly affected,” the report said.
Lippert, who had a criminal record, was hired without a
background check in 1988 and worked part-time at both RMT and
the Community Lab, the report said. He was also a registered
sperm donor at the clinics and frequently supplied samples.
Lippert, considered a good worker by some but a problem employee
by others, left the job in 1993 for unknown reasons and died six
years later, the report said.
Sean Mulvihill, M.D., associate vice president for clinical
affairs and CEO of the University of Utah Medical Group,
apologized to the Branums for the swap on behalf of the
University this week.
“No family should have to go through something like this, and we
are deeply sorry for the stress and uncertainty this has caused
their family,” Mulvihill said in a written statement.
In its report, the committee suggested that the institution
continue to offer free paternity testing for one to two years to
former clients concerned about their procedures.
The university said it had tested five people through an
independent laboratory since January to try to determine whether
Lippert had fathered any additional children.
The testing did not link Lippert to more offspring but did
uncover a case where a child conceived by an anonymous sperm
bank donor at one of the now-defunct clinics was not the donor
selected by the family, the university said.
The university said it was investigating that case as well.
(Reporting by Laila Kearney; editing by Dan Whitcomb and Gunna
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