healthHealth and Medicine

Woman Makes Horrifying Discovery Through Ancestry DNA Test


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer


The lawsuit is still ongoing. bezikus/Shutterstock

Notwithstanding the controversies over their reported inaccurate health risk assessments, it’s worth remembering that consumer genetic testing kits aren’t entirely erroneous. They do provide the user with some basic genetic curiosities – and in one case, it appears the revelation was a little more shocking than the customer bargained for.

As reported by BBC News, an American woman who sent a DNA sample to genealogy site back in 2017 was shocked to find out that the results suggested she wasn’t related to her father. Although she initially expected that this was an error – telling her now-divorced parents as much – it transpired that Kelli Rowlette was related to the doctor who delivered her at birth, 36 years ago.


Gizmodo notes that, upon receipt of the results of the ancestry test, Ms Rowlette was baffled by the inclusion of Gerald Mortimer, but she didn’t know who he was right off the bat. That was only revealed when she stumbled across her birth certificate, which included the name of the doctor that delivered her. Until this point, her parents kept their shock at the news to themselves.

Her lawsuit is now seeking to prosecute the Idaho Falls obstetrician gynecologist, with whom her mother and her supposed father, Sally Ashby and Howard Fowler, respectively, consulted prior to birth. He’s up for fraud, medical negligence, battery, emotional distress, and breach of contract.

The plaintiffs also name the Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates of Idaho Falls in the lawsuit, whose members, they claim, knew about Dr Mortimer’s behavior.

According to the lawsuit, the married couple had trouble conceiving, due to a low sperm count and a uterine condition. The Washington Post explains that she had a retroverted uterus, in which the uterus is angled spinewards. It’s unclear how this affects fertility, though.


Consequently, the couple decided to be artificially inseminated using sperm from both her husband (85 percent) and a donor (15 percent), who was requested to be a university student with fairly specific physical characteristics. The idea was that by doubling up the sperm donors, there would be a better chance of successful insemination, although the science surrounding this method shows decidedly mixed results.

In any case, it seems that at some point, Dr Mortimer used his own sperm instead, without the knowledge of the parents. Ms Rowlette was born in 1981, and later, the couple had a son without any additional medical assistance.

According to Courthouse News, the lawsuit mentions that Ms Ashby, Mr Fowler, and their two children eventually moved away from Idaho Falls to Washington State.

“Dr. Mortimer cried when Ms. Ashby informed him they were moving. Dr. Mortimer knew Kelli Rowlette was his biological daughter but did not disclose this to Ms. Ashby or Mr. Fowler,” the 14-page complaint noted.



healthHealth and Medicine
  • tag
  • lawsuit,

  • online,

  • secret,

  • sue,

  • Genetic testing,

  • fertility doctor,

  • gynecologist,


  • kit