A couple's greatest joy has become, in some ways, their worst nightmare. Carolyn and Sean Savage wanted to have another child and they were having trouble, so they turned to in vitro fertilization. Then they learned the horrifying news that doctors had implanted Carolyn with another couple's embryo.
Despite a history of difficult pregnancy, Carolyn and Sean made the decision to carry the child to term and then to give that baby to its biological parents. But they also wanted to tell their story as a possible warning to other couples.
Carolyn and Sean spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.
Kiran Chetry: Carolyn, you're 35 weeks pregnant right now. I understand you actually went to the hospital last night.
Carolyn Savage: Yeah, we just had a little false alarm last night. Being 35 weeks pregnant for me is nothing short of miraculous because I delivered my third child at 32 weeks, my second child at 30 weeks. And so it's been 15 years since I've been this pregnant. I just didn't quite know what was going on last night. So we just went in for safety purposes. And everything's fine. So hopefully we'll be able to squeeze a little more time out of this.
Chetry: Everything's going fine physically, thank goodness. Emotionally, it must be such a difficult time for both of you as you're trying to figure out what to do. Take us back to the beginning. You decided you needed to get in vitro fertilization to be able to become pregnant with your fourth child. When did you realize that a terrible mistake had been made and another couple's embryo had been implanted?
Sean Savage: I received a call, actually, at my desk in my office on my cell phone sharing with us that we were pregnant, but at the same time, that they had transferred another couple's embryos to Carolyn. So the news came simultaneously. And it was absolutely a shock.
Chetry: Carolyn, how did you react when you heard it?
Carolyn: Well, I was at home. The news went to Sean in error. They thought they were calling me and they called his cell phone by mistake. Sean came home and told me right away. It was just a very shocking moment. I couldn't even comprehend what he was saying. I know I was kind of yelling at him, asking him if he was joking. Clearly his physical demeanor indicated that there was no joke about the news he was delivering to me.
Chetry: You guys say that the decision was instantaneous. You were not going to terminate this pregnancy. You were going to carry this child. You also sought the guidance, as I understand it, of a priest as well as some reproductive endocrinologists within this hospital, who said you understand that you're going to have to give this baby to its biological parents. So as you're making all these decisions, explain how you came to the conclusion or at least came to have some peace with the decision that you were going to carry this baby and then give it away.
Sean: Well, that was something that within minutes of learning of the news and after I came home to share the information with Carolyn, we almost immediately came to that conclusion. It was something that there was no other option based on our belief system, based on our history. And so that decision came without hesitation. And some of the other issues and items that followed were very, very difficult to deal with. But we took it one step at a time.
Chetry: I understand. And Carolyn, has there been any explanation given that satisfies you from the clinic about how this happened?
Carolyn: Not to this date. We spoke with the doctor who performed the embryo transfer the day that we were informed that I was pregnant, but it was somebody else's genetic child. After that date and then a few days later when we communicated with him, we terminated all contact with the clinic responsible. We just thought it was best at that point. So no, no explanation to date has been given.
Chetry: It's a tough situation. I can't even imagine what you guys must be going through. Have you thought about legal options? Are you going to sue? Are you going to try to seek monetary damages, try to shut this clinic down?
Sean: We have legal representation and they will be speaking on our behalf relating to those issues. Our focus is right now the health and well-being of the child and the health and well-being of Carolyn. And hopefully a safe delivery in the coming days.
Chetry: Oh, certainly we hope that for you as well. As I understand it, you have established communication with this other family. And how is that whole thing going to work after you give birth, Carolyn?
Carolyn: Well, we obviously – it's a C-section, so hopefully that will afford them enough time. They're not local to us. So hopefully they'll be able to get to the hospital in time to be there for the delivery. They won't be in the O.R. during the delivery, but they'll be close by and be reunited with their son hopefully within minutes of the birth. After that, Sean and I have made a decision that we'll defer to their judgment as his parents as to any kind of contact that may be afforded to us in the role that we played in bringing him into this world.
Chetry: In some ways you look at this as a gift to them? I mean, clearly they were having reproductive issues as well which is why they sought IVF. And because of your tragedy, they're getting a blessing.
Carolyn: Yes. We made a choice, as we've gone along, and it's been exceptionally difficult, but as we approach the delivery, we're trying to frame this situation as a gift to the other family despite the loss that we'll incur. We're bringing a new child into this world and we really believe that it is a gift.