Woman to give birth to strangers’ child

THURSDAY, SEPT. 24, 2009

Carolyn Savage, 40, is seen at her home Wednesday in Sylvania, Ohio. Savage says a fertility clinic implanted the wrong embryo.  (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Carolyn Savage, 40, is seen at her home Wednesday in Sylvania, Ohio. Savage says a fertility clinic implanted the wrong embryo. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

Fertility clinic error forced decision

TOLEDO, Ohio – Carolyn Savage didn’t know what to think, what to say, where to look as the ultrasound wand glided over her belly. It was supposed to be her baby inside. Not someone else’s.

Yet here she was in her doctor’s office with the baby’s biological mother, brought together by a terrible fertility clinic error. A doctor, they said, had given Savage the wrong embryo, and she was carrying the other woman’s child.

Embryo mix-ups at fertility clinics are rare. In those few instances, they’ve degenerated into custody battles, ugly lawsuits and at least one abortion. But Savage and her husband decided that the right thing – the only thing – to do was to give the baby to the biological parents.

“This was someone else’s child,” she told the Associated Press on Wednesday. “We didn’t know who it was. We didn’t know if they didn’t have children or if this was their last chance for a child.

“We knew if our child was out there, we’d go to the ends of the earth to get our child back,” she said.

Savage, 40, is due to give birth to a boy within the next two weeks via cesarean section. When it happens, biological parents Paul and Shannon Morell will be nearby, waiting to meet their son.

“How do you thank somebody for what they’ve done?” Shannon Morell said. “I could say thank you a million different ways.”

The Savages say the fertility clinic transferred the wrong frozen embryo to Savage’s womb in February. Ten days later, Sean Savage got a call from a doctor saying his wife was pregnant with someone else’s child.

The doctor told them they could abort, but the couple didn’t consider that a viable option. “It wasn’t even something we had to discuss,” said Sean Savage, 39.

The Morells, who live north of Detroit, learned of the mistake a day after the Savages. They were about to start the process of having another baby with their last embryos when the clinic called.

The two couples knew nothing about each other. Shannon Morell feared that the pregnant woman would choose abortion, ending their chance to give their 2-year-old twin girls a sibling.

“I didn’t think she’d want to carry the baby to term,” Morell said. “I felt helpless.”

A few days passed before they learned that the Savages were not only willing to continue with the pregnancy, but also to give them the baby without hesitation.

Neither family is sure what will happen after the baby is handed over to the Morells. They plan on approaching it like they have so far – with caution and care.

Carolyn Savage won’t have another chance to carry her own baby because of her age and difficulties during previous pregnancies. She and her husband plan to hire a surrogate and try again for a fourth child.


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