The biological parents of a baby boy born to an American woman who was implanted with the wrong embryo by a fertility clinic have expressed their "eternal gratitude" to her, not just for continuing with the pregnancy, but also for handing the child back to them.
Carolyn Savage, 40, of Toledo, Ohio, was implanted with the embryo in February. Ten days later, doctors told her husband, Sean, that she was pregnant with another couple's child. But where other victims of similar mistakes have aborted the foetus or fought for custody, they decided to have the baby and return it to its biological parents – despite the pregnancy being their last chance to have another child.
The 5lb 3oz boy was born on Thursday, and the Savages, who have a son of 15, offered their "heartfelt congratulations" to his biological parents, Paul and Shannon Morell, who described Mrs Savage as their "guardian angel".
"By God's grace, there was never a moment where we thought we were going to have another baby of our own. This was someone else's child," Mrs Savage said. "We didn't know who it was. But we knew if our child was out there, we'd go to the ends of the earth to get our child back."
The Morells, of Detroit, Michigan, were told of the mix-up a day after the clinic had called Mr Savage, 39, a financial adviser. A few days after that, the Savages told them of their decision to have the child. And, after communicating through their lawyers for three months, the couples met. They have remained in close contact.
"I didn't think she'd want to carry the baby to term. I felt helpless," said Mrs Morell, 39. "How do you thank somebody for what they've done?"
The clinic, which has not been named, has yet to offer either family an explanation for the mistake, although the fact that Mrs Morell's maiden name was Savage has been raised as a possible cause. The families are not thought to be related.
Both have instructed lawyers and hope to settle out of court. The clinic's lawyer, Paul Manion, said: "This has never happened to this practice before, and they are working day and night so that it will never happen again."
Following the birth, the Morells, who have twin two-year-old daughters, said in a statement: "We will be eternally grateful for his guardian angel, Carolyn Savage." The child's name has not been revealed.
Mrs Savage spoke in the days before the birth of the responsibility she felt towards the Morells. She told the Toledo Blade newspaper. "I can't even imagine if something went wrong."
In 2004, a Californian woman was awarded $1m after a clinic not only gave her the wrong embryo but did not admit the mistake until the baby was 10 months old. And in 1998 a white New York woman gave birth to a black couple's baby, sparking a two-year custody battle.