UK Dad's Son Was 'Swapped At Birth' in El Salvador, As Parents Reveal Fears Their Son Was Sold To Human Traffickers

07/09/2015 16:47 | Updated 07 September 2015

A British father and his wife believe their newborn son was swapped by staff at a private hospital in El Salvador then sold to human traffickers, after DNA tests confirmed the child they have been caring for is not theirs.

Richard Cushworth and Mercedes Casanellas suspected something was wrong the day after their son's birth when the baby Ginecologico private hospital staff handed them had darker skin than they remembered. DNA tests three months later revealed the child had a 0.00 per cent probability of being their son.

The couple, who live in Dallas, Texas, travelled to San Salvador in May so Casanellas could give birth in her home country.

baby case

Mercedes Casanellas and her husband Richard Cushworth with the baby they believe an El Salvador hospital swapped for their child

In an interview with a local TV station Casanellas said: "We haven't been able to sleep thinking about where he is, and who has him."

Cushworth, whose parents live in Bradford, West Yorkshire, added: "We just want them to give us our son back."

Casanellas, who met Cushworth when he was working as a missionary in El Salvador, said: "It's a horrible situation. I have a child and I don't know where he is.

"Someone took my child and I have no idea where he is, who is taking care of him, what has happened to him. Is he in the country? It's awful.

mercedes casanellas

The couple's biological son had the same pale skin tone as its father

"I sometimes try not to think about this because it is so frightening."

In a teaser video for the TV programme Casanellas says: "I have a beautiful baby boy at home. It's not mine and maybe there's another mother suffering the same as I am and perhaps I have her baby."

Casanella's obstetrician-gynaecologist, Dr Alejandro Guidos, who the couple accuse of masterminding the baby swap, was arrested on Thursday, according to their family's lawyer Francisco Meneses, Mail Online reports.

Media reports claim that Casanellas said that from the fifth month of her pregnancy Guidos continually told her that her child would be dark-skinned, even though the father was white.

mercedes casanellas

Cadanellas appeared on a TV programme in El Salvador where she pleaded for her biological child to be returned to her and her husband

Remembering her baby's birth she told El Salvador media: "I was very stressed at first because the baby took a while to start breathing, but then I held him and remember thinking that he looked like my husband."

Casanellas said she was then sedated. When she woke the next morning she was handed her baby and noticed "he was very different to the one I had held in the delivery room".

Despite the couple's doubts they took the baby back to the US where over the following months family and friends also pointed out that the child did not look like them.


The family have reportedly already investigated all the other babies born at the hospital on the same day as their son. They are all said to be with their correct parents.

The hospital involved, Ginecologio, at first denied the couple's baby could have been swapped, but since the TV interview it has launched an internal investigation. The hospital has promised the situation will be "rectified".

El Salvador's Attorney General has also reportedly ordered a criminal investigation into the baby's disappearance amid claims a trafficking gang, led by Dr Guido, has been operating inside the hospital.

Casanellas said: "I just want him to give me my baby back. I want to know that my child hasn't been trafficked or any other crime committed against him. I need my baby, I'm just asking for my baby."

The couple said if the true parents of the baby they were given are not found they will continue to raise him.

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