Alicia Chonn, 38, told CBC News in an interview that she had no idea the second procedure was to be performed.
“I was completely blind-sided,” Chonn said.
The lawsuit, filed in BC Supreme Court, suggests that the Olive Fertility Centre and the doctors Abraham (Al) Yuzpe, Gary Nakhuda and Elizabeth (Beth) Taylor acted “in a high-handed and arrogant fashion by failing to obtain” Chonn’s informed consent.
According to the lawsuit, Chonn does not hold her friend accountable for the procedure. Instead, she accused the clinic and doctors of “creating a conflict of interest between two sets of patients and callously preferring the interest of paying patients” to her, when she “was not a paying patient.”
Surrogates cannot be paid in Canada for their services.
Chonn had agreed to act as a surrogate mother for her friend and her friend’s husband, whose identity has been kept secret out of respect. The eggs of Chonn’s friend were not viable, hence her decision to approach Chonn to act as a surrogate.
A number of Chonn’s eggs were removed by the clinic and fertilized by Chonn’s friend’s husband in vitro. One of the resulting embryos was then implanted in Chonn’s womb.
She later gave birth to a boy in March 2015. Chonn relinquished all rights to the child – this was the original arrangement she had agreed to, she said.
“These are two people that I love very much, and so I had set out to just really want to help them and bring happiness to them and really felt they deserved to be parents. And just because of circumstances, they weren’t able to,” Chonn explained. “It was just as simple as, I carry the baby, no problem.”
Chonn’s lawsuit alleges that in December 2015 – eight months after she gave birth to her friend’s child – she received a phone call from the Olive Fertility Clinic, “hurriedly and forcefully asking her to consent to using one of the embryos, created with her ovum, to impregnate [her friend].” Chonn was also told that her friend was “prepped for the procedure and waiting for…her consent.”
“They’re telling me she’s pretty much lying there on the table…ready to receive my embryo,” she recounted.
“It’s so overwhelming because you also have to remember that I carried the first one. So now all of a sudden you’re presenting me with an option that I didn’t even know was an option. So she could have carried the first time? So then why did I go through all that? Why did I have to live this?”
“I had committed and agreed to the one child, I fulfilled and lived up to my word. And anything else after the fact, I feel quite strongly was never discussed.”
Her civil claim states that she “was in a state of shock and surprise and did not issue her consent to the procedure. [She] made an overture indicating there was nothing she could really do to stop the [Olive Fertility doctors]”, which they “incorrectly, negligently and maliciously acted on and attempted to construe as her consent” when they “knew no such consent had been provided and would have been contrary to The Assisted Human Reproduction Act.”
A spokesperson for the clinic declined to comment when CBC asked for a statement. The clinic and the doctors named in the suit had yet to file a legal response. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
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