Published March 23, 2008
| Newscorp Australian Papers
The words new mother Fiona least expected or wanted to hear when she gave birth were: "It's a boy."
The 30-year-old and her husband Paul used in-vitro fertilization, known as IVF, with the specific aim of producing a daughter and expected a girl for the entire pregnancy.
A family history of an incurable blood disorder, which strikes only males, was behind their decision to opt for the controversial sex selection procedure.
By taking the extreme step of asking doctors to discard all male embryos and implant only a female, they hoped their child would avoid the life-threatening condition that Fiona has watched her wheelchair-bound older brother battle his entire life.
But soon after baby Jess was born in June, 2005, doctors confirmed he has a severe form of hemophilia, the condition his family was so desperate to avoid.
The couple, from regional Victoria, has launched a Supreme Court action against Melbourne IVF, Ballarat Health Services, their obstetrician and Bendigo Radiology.
Fiona claims that at no time during her pregnancy — even after two ultrasounds — did anyone tell her the child she was carrying was a boy. The couple say they would have considered terminating the pregnancy had they known.
"We love our little boy, but we are very sorry he has to go through so much in his life," the couple told The Sunday Telegraph.
"We tried everything to avoid this situation, and now our boy has to go through all the pain and treatment in order to survive.
"We now face the fact that Jess will require treatment for the rest of his life."
Their lawyer, Mandy Bede of the firm Maurice Blackburn, says the case is possibly the first of its kind in the world.
In documents lodged with the court, each of the defendants denies the allegations against them and each will contest the matter if it comes to trial.
Paul and Fiona (who do not want to reveal their surname) are claiming damages for the shock and nervous anxiety caused by the unexpected nature of the birth.
They also want compensation for the loss of income and earning capacity they have, and will suffer, because of their son's needs.
And they are claiming money to cover medical expenses, because Jess will need treatment and care for life.
Because his blood does not clot properly, he is prone to uncontrolled bleeding if he is injured and spontaneous internal bleeds.