NEWS
08/09/2015 03:45 BST | Updated 07/09/2016 06:12 BST

British Father Fears Baby Son Sold In El Salvador

A British father has appealed for help to find his baby son after he raised fears his newborn child could have been swapped and sold to human traffickers in El Salvador.

Richard Cushworth, 41, and his Salvadoran wife Mercedes Casanellas claim a doctor at the hospital where she gave birth exchanged their child for another as she slept, according to reports.

The couple left the private hospital with the newborn but made a public appeal three months on, after a DNA test revealed the boy was unlikely to be their biological son.

Spanish-language website Elsalvador.com said the couple's doctor, Alejandro Guidos, was arrested but has protested his innocence after being bailed.

The site reported authorities are believed to have found the couple's child after carrying out DNA testing but the family are yet to be reunited.

Ms Casanellas, 39, told reporters she initially became suspicious when she noticed the features of her newborn differed from those of the boy doctors handed her the day after she gave birth in May. In particular, she thought the second youngster had darker skin. 

She took the child to the couple's home in Dallas, Texas, but the pair, both missionaries working in El Salvador, returned to the Central American country after family members also expressed doubts.

The pair made a public appeal on local TV, saying they feared their son may have been sold to traffickers.

Ms Casanellas told the Daily Mail: "This is every mother's nightmare. I didn't even get to hold my biological son before he was taken from me. As soon as I saw the other boy, I said: 'That's not my child.'

"I do not know what to do. We are hoping it's a mistake but every day that looks less likely."

Mr Cushworth, originally from Bradford, West Yorkshire, told the paper: "Someone took my child and I have no idea where he is, who is taking care of him. Is he in the country? It's awful."

Dr Guidos was quoted by Elsalvador.com as saying: "I feel calm, did not have to prove anything. I'm innocent."

The Gynecological Hospital Centre, in the country's capital San Salvador, where Ms Casanellas gave birth, launched an internal investigation and promised the situation would be "rectified".

Mr Cushworth told the BBC: "God has given us this child and somehow, somebody has taken him from us, and we want him back."

Francisco Meneses, the couple's lawyer, added: "We don't have anything against the people who were involved during the baby's birth, but we want all these people to put their hands on their hearts because from the doctor who performed the surgery, the paediatrician, anaesthesiologist, and the two nurses who were in the delivery room, it's very important for them to tell us what happened."