There are many reasons to avoid some of the direct-to-consumer DNA tests on the market these days. Recent data suggest that many may produce alarming false positives for disease risks, while others that claim to predict things like athletic abilities and wine preferences are simply wrong. Another perhaps less-common concern is that an at-home genetic analysis may unveil completely unexpected, deeply disturbing information that you just can’t prepare for. That was the case for Washington state’s Kelli Rowlette, who took a DNA test with the popular site Ancestry.com last year.
… Rowlette was expecting to discover new details about her distant ancestors, but she instead learned that her DNA sample matched that of a doctor in Idaho. The Ancestry.com analysis predicted a “parent-child” relationship. Befuddled and in disbelief, Rowlette relayed the findings to her parents. According to a lawsuit the family filed, she told her parents she was disappointed that the results were so unreliable. But little did she know that her parents — who previously lived in Idaho — had trouble conceiving her and, in 1980, underwent an unusual fertility procedure with a doctor near their Idaho Falls home. The name of that doctor was Gerald E. Mortimer — who happened to have a DNA sample with Ancestry.com that matched Rowlette’s.
… Back in 1980, Rowlette’s parents became patients of Mortimer after unfruitful attempts to conceive. The couple agreed to a fertility procedure in which Mortimer said he would mix the father’s sperm with donor sperm. Rowlette’s discovered she was pregnant with her in August 1980 and she was born in 1981.
… Eventually the family moved to Washington state. Rowlette and her parents are now suing the doctor for fraud, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and breach of contract.