08/09/2015 05:26 BST | Updated 08/09/2015 05:59 BST

British Dad In El Salvador Baby Swap Case Reunited With Son After Apparent Hospital 'Mix-Up'

The British father and his wife who claimed their son was swapped at birth at a hospital in El Salvador and sold to human traffickers, have been reunited with their biological son.

Richard Cushworth and wife Mercedes Casanellas made a public appeal for the return of their son during a TV interview in the country after DNA testing three months after his birth revealed the child was not theirs. The couple had claimed a doctor at the Ginecologico private hospital in San Salvado where their son was delivered on May 21 swapped their baby for a darker skinned infant, then sold it to human traffickers.

Casanella's obstetrician-gynaecologist, Dr Alejandro Guidos, who the couple accused of masterminding the baby swap, was arrested on Thursday, fueling fears that the trafficking scenario was true.

Richard Cushworth raises his hands in the air in celebration as his wife Mercedes Casanellas carries their biological son after the couple were reunited with the child on Monday

Investigators tracked down the couple's son by ordering other new mothers who were patients at the same hospital to have their babies DNA tested, and the couple were reunited with their son on Monday.

Prosecutor General Luis Martinez told local media that the babies of two couples had been mixed up, something the family's lawyer, Fernando Meneses, also confirmed. He added that the hospital needed to review procedures to ensure it could not happen again.

Approached at the San Salvador Crowne Plaza where the family is staying the boy's grandfather David Cushman told MailOnline: "We have our grandson - and he looks like his father."

The child exchange is said to have taken place before a judge in a sixth floor office at the Prosecutor General's in Santa Elena a suburb of San Salvador.

Both families involved are said to have been forced to sign a gagging order preventing them from talking about the baby swap case, however, Casanellas told a Salvadoran TV station Monday night that the couple were satisfied with the work of the authorities in finding their son.

Casanellas said: "Our hearts are for our son.

"We are happy with the support we received from the Salvadoran people."

Prosecutor Martinez told reporters the two boys' privacy was paramount. "The families need to keep it to themselves to protect the children's rights.

"We appreciate the help we received from the forensics to help solve this tragic event.

"It ended up being a scenario where love, friendship and tenderness won."

At a hearing for Guildos on Monday authorities told the couple that they had already identified their biological son.

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

Casanellas and Cushworth had claimed their son was sold to human traffickers

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.

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."

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

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.