Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Fertility clinic's embryo mix-up leads to book


Shannon and Paul Morell hold their son, 7-month-old Logan. He was born to Carolyn Savage of Sylvania, the result of a mix-up at a fertility clinic that impregnated her with the Morells' embryo.

Paul Sancya / AP Enlarge

UTICA, Mich. - 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?

Mrs. Morell and her husband, Paul, had no advice books on what they were going through: Their son Logan was the result of an extraordinary mix-up at a fertility clinic in which a Sylvania woman, Carolyn Savage, was implanted with the Morells' embryo.

Seven months after their son's birth, the Morells - who only reluctantly talked to the media in the days before he was born - have written a book chronicling what happened.

"We didn't want our experience to go to waste," Mr. Morell said.

The Morells, who live in a Detroit suburb, are making the media rounds after co-writing Misconception with author Angela Hunt. The book is due out tomorrow.

"I feel we've done our best to help other couples, give them some insight of what we went through, what we've learned," Mrs. Morell said.

"And let fertility clinics know, 'Hey, we haven't forgotten what happened. Have you looked at your security, have you tightened up 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 Sylvania woman who was implanted with the Morells' embryos, and her husband, Sean Savage, didn't want to have an abortion and didn't want 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 fertilization 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 Mrs. Morell said the clinic didn't "accept responsibility until after it had been in the media."

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

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

In September, shortly before Logan's birth, Mrs. Savage told Mrs. Morell they would appear on NBC's Today show. Mrs. Savage told Mrs. Morell she wouldn't mention their names, but the Morells figured their anonymity would soon end.

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

On Sept. 23, the Morells appeared on the morning show.

In the hours that followed, the phone kept ringing and reporters descended on her house. The media crush made her question their choice.

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 with the Savages and signed the documents that made Logan legally theirs.

Since his birth, the Morells say the couples have stayed in touch and the families got together in December.

"I'm glad that they've taken an interest," Mrs. 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 early next year.

"We pray Logan Morell grows to understand his birth was a blessing and his life a gift," the statement said.

Mrs. Morell said her book is a public thank you to the Savages.

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