SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah has put together a panel of doctors and medical ethicists to find out how a convicted felon working at a fertility clinic two decades ago replaced a patient’s sperm with his own and fathered a woman who is now 21.
Taking full responsibility on Wednesday for the switch that occurred in 1991, Sean Mulvihill, the chief executive of University of Utah Medical Group, promised as complete an inquiry as possible.
The university has confirmed that Thomas Lippert, an employee of the private clinic that closed in 1998, replaced a man’s sperm with his own, fathering the girl who now lives in San Antonio with her family. They don’t know why or how it happened, and set up a hotline and website for anyone else who visited the clinic between 1988 and 1993, when Lippert worked there.
About 15 people have called a hotline the university set up this month, and a couple of families are considering paternity tests. So far, there are no other known cases of Lippert fathering children without the family’s knowledge.
But complicating matters is the fact that most of the records from the lab are gone and Lippert and the former clinic director have died. As many as 1,000 people may have gone to the clinic while Lippert worked there, said Mulvihill.