One Year: 1995

Season 2: Episode 3


At a fertility clinic in California, patients entrusted their dreams—and their genetic material—to a doctor who followed no code of ethics but his own.


Episode Notes

In 1995, an enormous scandal rocked the burgeoning field of reproductive medicine. This week, Christina Cauterucci tells the story of how one of the biggest ethical breaches in American medical history became one woman’s personal nightmare.

One Year is produced by Josh Levin, Evan Chung, and Madeline Ducharme. Additional production help from Cheyna Roth. Mixing by Merritt Jacob.

Sources for This Episode


Dodge, Mary and Gilbert Geis. Stealing Dreams: A Fertility Clinic ScandalNortheastern University Press, 2003.

Matocq, Lisa M and Rachel Gibson. Truth and Consequences of the Genetic Revolution. Diane Publishing, 1996.

Wymelenberg, Suzanne. “Infertility.” In Science and Babies: Private Decisions, Public Dilemmas. National Academy Press, 1990.


Annas, George. “POV: It’s Time to Regulate the Fertility Industry,” BU Today, July 16, 2015.

Banisky, Sandy. “Seed of Doubt: Would-Be Parents Who Trusted Doctors Now Plan Lawsuits,” Baltimore Sun, Aug. 13, 1995.

Burgess, John. “In Vitro Veritas,” Orange Coast, July 1996.

Christensen, Kim and Susan Kelleher, “Baby Born After Doctor Took Eggs Without Consent,” Orange County Register, May 19, 1995.

Christensen, Kim and Susan Kelleher, “Doctors Ran Renegade Practice,” Orange County Register, June 4, 1995.

Christensen, Kim and Susan Kelleher, “UCI Probes: Doctors Mishandled Eggs, Cash,” Orange County Register, June 4, 1995.

Dodson, Marcida. “Fallopian-Tube Technique Has Papal Blessing,” Los Angeles Times, March 14, 1987.

The Evolution of Fertility Treatments and Development of IVF,” Southern California Reproductive Center, Nov. 29, 2016.

Gabriel, Trip. “High-Tech Pregnancies Test Hope’s Limit,” New York Times, Jan. 7, 1996.

Granberry, Michael. “Improper Use of Embryos, Eggs Targeted,” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 16, 1996.

Granberry, Michael. “Woman’s Suit Against UCI Alleges Boy Is Her Offspring,” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 8, 1996.

Haldane, David. “Ex-UCI Fertility Doctor Sentenced in Fraud Case,” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 25, 1999.

Hundreds of Embryos Go Missing,” CBS News, May 11, 2000.

Kelleher, Susan. “A Legacy in Limbo: Couple Say Transferring Eggs to Someone Else Robbed Them of Their Genetic Heritage,” Orange County Register, July 14, 1995.

Kelleher, Susan. “Workers: UCI Hushed Us Up,” Orange County Register, June 1, 1995.

Kelleher, Susan and Kim Christensen. “A View From Inside the Fertility Clinic,” Orange County Register, August 13, 1995.

Kelleher, Susan, Kim Christensen, et al. “Clinic Scandal Widens,” Orange County Register, Nov. 4, 1995.

Kelleher, Susan, Kim Christensen, et al. “Egg Thefts During Exams Alleged,” Orange County Register, Nov. 4, 1995.

Ollove, Michael. “States Not Eager to Regulate Fertility Industry,” Pew Stateline, March 18, 2015.

Marquis, Julie. “Doctors’ Papers Seized in Fertility Clinic Probe,” Los Angeles Times, Sept. 20, 1995.

Marquis, Julie. “UC Fertility Case Doctor Sells Home,” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 24, 1995.

Marquis, Julie and Ken Ellingwood. “UCI Concedes Clinic Had List of Clinic Victims,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 9, 1995.

Marquis, Julie, Tracy Weber, and Michael G. Wagner. “Egg Misuse May Have Involved 30 More Patients, UCI Reports,” Los Angeles Times, July 6, 1995.

Mydans, Seth. “Fertility Clinic Told to Close Amid Complaints,” New York Times, May 29, 1995.

Nicolosi, Michelle. “Corona Parents Make Ordeal Public,” Orange County Register, June 8, 1995.

Nicolosi, Michelle and David Parrish. “UCI Offered Secret Deal to Doctors,” Orange County Register, August 12, 1995.

Nissenbaum, Dion. “Doctors accused of ‘biomedical rapes,’ ” United Press International, June 14, 1995.

Nugent, Ciara, “What It Was Like to Grow Up as the World’s First ‘Test-Tube Baby,’ ” Time, July 25, 2018.

Saillant, Catherine. “Fugitive in UC Irvine Fertility Scandal Arrested in Mexico City; U.S. Hopes to Extradite Him,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 27, 2010.

Smolowe, Jill. “The Test-Tube Custody Fight,” Time, March 18, 1996.

UCI Fertility Scandal: What They Said,” Los Angeles Times, June 15, 1995.

Welborn, Larry. “Fertility Lawyer Melanie Blum Surrenders,” Orange County Register, July 13, 2006.

Wexler, Kathryn. “Egg-Swapping Scandal Still Unfolding,” Washington Post, Oct. 16, 1995.

Wexler, Kathryn. “Missing Eggs Leave Empty Arms,” Washington Post, Dec. 31, 1995.

Yoshino, Kimi. “UC Irvine Fertility Scandal Isn’t Over,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 20, 2006.

Other Sources

The Embryo Project Encyclopedia,” Arizona State University,

Wang, Jeff and Mark V. Sauer. “In vitro fertilization (IVF): a review of 3 decades of clinical innovation and technological advancement,” Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management 2, no. 4 (Dec. 2006): 355-364.


About the Show

The people and struggles that changed America—one year at a time. In each episode, host Josh Levin explores a story you may have forgotten, or one you’ve never heard of before. What were the moments that transformed politics, culture, science, religion, and more? And how does the nation’s past shape our present?

The new season of One Year covers 1995, a year when homegrown terrorists attacked Oklahoma City, America went online, and the Macarena took over nightclubs.

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