Authors, Inconceivable: A Medical Mistake, the Baby We Couldn’t Keep, and Our Choice to Deliver the Ultimate Gift, HarperOne, 2010
Sean, Financial Consultant, Savage & Associates
Carolyn, former Catholic school principal
Three children: Drew, 16; Ryan, 13, Mary Kate, 2
Sean and Carolyn Savage: Medical Mistake
CBN.com - Sean and Carolyn were pregnant with their first child by the time they were married one year. Getting pregnant would never again be that easy for Carolyn. With their second child, they used ovulation stimulation shots, and the process worked. Then in 2006 after years of trying to have another baby and unsuccessful attempts using ovulation stimulation shots, Carolyn and Sean decided to use invitro fertilization to have their next baby. Because of their faith, Carolyn and Sean promised each other they would give all of their embryos which were not used, a chance at life. On the first try, they conceived their daughter Mary Kate, who was born in 2008. So in February 2009, as Carolyn was nearing her fortieth birthday, they decided to transfer three of the remaining frozen embryos.
Ten days after the transfer, Carolyn went in for a pregnancy test. Later that day, the fertility doctor called Sean at work. He said, “Carolyn is pregnant with another couple’s genetic child.” Sean was numb from the news. He drove home and told Carolyn the bad news. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Carolyn sat on the bed trying to contain her grief and fear. Sean felt helpless. “We were overwhelmed,” says Carolyn. “There was nothing we could do.” The doctor wanted them to terminate the pregnancy, but the Savages said no. “We just did what we would want someone to do for us,” says Carolyn. “We knew to carry the baby to delivery would morally be the right thing.”
The Savages hoped that the genetic family might not be interested in having a baby, but their hopes were dashed after the fertility doctor broke the news that they were eager parents, too. For the first few months, Carolyn and Sean communicated with the genetic family through their lawyers and then emails. The Savages were struggling emotionally. “We struggled mightily,” says Sean. “We were thrown into the depths of despair.” The emotions were strong. Carolyn fought her thoughts of not wanting to give up the baby. “I begged God for strength and courage,” she says. They both credit their faith in God for getting through such a difficult situation. They say getting angry wouldn’t do anyone any good. “We had moments of anger,” says Sean. “But it was an accident. We are called to forgive.” Doing it is not as easy as saying it, especially considering the gravity of Carolyn’s medical situation. This was probably Carolyn’s last chance to have a baby because physically her body couldn’t take it. The Savages took the high road. “We are called to be bigger and better,” says Carolyn. “We’re fighting the good fight.”
Carolyn and Sean decided to meet the genetic family, Paul and Shannon Morrell. Carolyn describes the meeting as awkward, but meeting the couple made them less of an unknown. Now the Savages had to inform their families. Surprisingly, though it was difficult, their boys handled the news with maturity. Throughout her pregnancy, Carolyn found herself feeling joyful and seconds later plunging into the depths of despair. Around 20 weeks, the Savage, knowing Carolyn would not be able to carry anymore children, decided to find a surrogate for their unused embryos Soon they found a wonderful woman named Jennifer. Two of the five remaining embryos were transferred to Jennifer and one of them resulted in a pregnancy. Now they had hope for a new member of their family.
On September 24, 2009 doctors delivered Logan Savage Morrell four weeks premature by C-section. Carolyn and Sean held him for a few minutes. Tears of joy ran down their faces. Sean walked the baby to the Morrells who were waiting in a separate room nearby. Both Carolyn and Paul struggled with their emotions. “We tried to focus on the gift, not the loss,” says Carolyn.
The next day the Savages signed custody papers relinquishing custody of Logan to the Morrells. One week later, their surrogate, Jennifer, called and was hysterical. Doctors couldn’t find a heartbeat for their baby. She had miscarried two and half months into her pregnancy. They lost two babies in one week. Carolyn dropped to her knees. She cried out to God, “This too?!” They dealt with their losses with their priest and Christian therapist. Carolyn says they relied on their faith in God. “Adversity leads to strength,” says Sean. “We’re stronger for going through this.”
The Morrells brought Logan for a visit with the Savages in December 2009, three months after he was born. Carolyn and Sean were overwhelmed with gratitude. Logan was loved by his parents. “All the grief, pain and tears were worth it because of this child,” says Carolyn. “And though we may never be a part of his life, he will always be a part of ours.”
In January 2010, using Jennifer, they used their last two embryos with no success. Then last summer, they made a new embryo and tried one more time with Jennifer. They were unsuccessful. “We gave a gift that is very much appreciated,” says Carolyn. “At the end of the day, we sleep with a clear conscious.”
The Savages hope that when Logan grows up that he knows he was not a burden. “We want him to know his life is a gift,” says Carolyn. Both couples settled with the clinic. The Savages insisted that one of the criteria was that the clinic provide a full description as to how the mistake was made. A review showed that Shannon used her maiden name “Savage” at the time of her procedure. The embryologist used Shannon’s information to locate the cryopreservation tank and thawed the wrong embryos used in the Savages’ procedure.
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