Mother Becomes Pregnant With the Wrong Baby! The Ultimate Nightmare

The MSNBC story, Wrong-Embryo Baby’s Parents Laud Guardian brings to mind a line from Tina Fey’s movie, Baby Mama: “Life is messy.” Fey plays the character of a thirty-seven year old woman who was informed that she only has a million-in-one chance of conceiving because of an abnormal uterus. She hires a surrogate who unknowingly is not pregnant with Fey’s child but her own. When the surrogate discovers the error, she must break the news to Frey who is of course, devastated. Art imitates life.

Carolyn Savage was a 40 y.o. woman who received in Vitro-Fertilization and on the third attempt, successfully conceived a baby. Unfortunately, it was the wrong baby; a nightmare no one should ever experience. Savage was carrying a baby who belonged to the Morrell family who had frozen embryos at the same infertility clinic.


As tragic as this may appear, all parties involved rose to the highest level of integrity regarding correcting this unfortunate error. The clinic informed Savage immediately upon discovering their mistake. As a physician who has witnessed my share of ethically-challenged administrators and colleagues in the medical profession, it took a tremendous amount of courage to claim ownership to an error of that magnitude. Savage was given the option of terminating the pregnancy or giving the baby to its biological parent. The Morrells had not planned to have a baby anytime soon but were informed that another woman was carrying theirs. What a moral dilemma.

As a former infertility patient and physician who became a mother after age 50 through the miracle of adoption, I truly felt their pain. Last week Savage delivered a healthy baby boy and gave it to the Morrells. There are no words that can articulate Savage’s valiant act.

To err is human but the effects are still shattering. May this level of incompetence never be allowed to recur again.