US couple's embryo implanted in wrong woman

On the drive home from the hospital, Shannon Morell peered at her sleeping newborn in his car seat and wondered, what would be the fastest route back to normal?

Unlike most other new parents, Morell and her husband, Paul, had no advice books on what they were going through. Their son was the result of an extraordinary mix-up at a fertility clinic in which another woman was implanted with the Morells' embryo.

Seven months after their son's birth, the Morells, who talked reluctantly to the media in the days before he was born, have written a book chronicling their experience and say sharing the story is a necessary detour on the road to a regular life.

"It wraps it all up," Shannon Morell said earlier this week in a suburban Detroit hotel room with her husband and a smiling, cooing Logan.

"We didn't want our experience to go to waste," her husband added.

The Morells, who live in Detroit, wrote Misconception with author Angela Hunt.

"I feel we've done our best to help other couples, give them some insight of what we went through, what we've learned," Shannon Morell said. "And let clinics know, 'We haven't forgotten what happened.

Have you looked at security, have you tightened protocols? What have you done?'."

Embryo mix-ups at fertility clinics are extremely rare. In those few instances, they've degenerated into custody battles, ugly lawsuits and at least one abortion. This is one of the only known cases that ended amicably.

Carolyn Savage, the Ohio woman who was implanted with the Morells' embryos, and her husband, Sean Savage, didn't want to have an abortion but they had no desire to raise the child.

The mix-up at the clinic apparently happened because Shannon's maiden name is Savage and she hadn't changed it until after using in vitro fertilisation to become pregnant with twins.

After their daughters were born in 2006, the Morells had six frozen embryos left and planned to try for another baby.

The Morells won't identify the clinic because of a confidential settlement. They also won't discuss financial terms, though Shannon Morell said that the clinic didn't "accept responsibility until after it had been in the media".

The couples met about three months into the pregnancy. A breakthrough in their relationship came in August, when Carolyn Savage invited Shannon Morell to an ultrasound appointment.

The Morells initially sought to keep the story private, but in their book they say that Carolyn's husband, Sean Savage, said "pregnancy is a public event" and can't be hidden.

In September, shortly before Logan's birth, Carolyn Savage told Shannon Morell they would soon appear on NBC's Today show.

Savage told Morell she wouldn't mention their names, but the Morells figured their anonymity would soon end.

"It was like a tidal wave was coming," said Paul, 39, a self-employed electrical engineer.

For Shannon Morell, 40, the fear of going public was diminished by the desire to tell their story. Morell, an eighth-grade teacher, said staying silent gave the impression they were just "going to get the baby and live happily ever after".

On September 23, the Morells appeared on the morning show. In the hours that followed, reporters kept ringing and descended on her house.

The next day, their son was born, and the Morells were at the hospital to greet him in a private, guarded waiting area. Before leaving, they visited the Savages and signed the documents that made Logan legally their son.

Since his birth, the couples have stayed in touch and met again in December.

"I'm glad that they've taken an interest," Shannon Morell said. "I wasn't sure at first. ... But I think after the fact, it just seems like, well, you carry a baby, you establish a bond."

The Savages, who have three children, said it's been "much more difficult for us than anticipated" since Logan's birth. They declined to be interviewed but say they plan to release their own book next year.

- AP

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