[Paleopsych] WP: Woman, 55, Gives Birth to Grandchildren

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Fri Jan 28 16:25:25 UTC 2005

Woman, 55, Gives Birth to Grandchildren

[This is almost a month late, but I don't think I've seen it elsewhere.]

    Surrogate Pregnancy In Va. Produces Triplets

    By Michael D. Shear and Rob Stein
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Wednesday, December 29, 2004; Page B01

    RICHMOND, Dec. 28 -- Tina Cade gave birth to her daughter 29 years
    ago. On Tuesday, at 55, she gave birth to her daughter's three

    Just hours after the births of two boys and a girl by Caesarean
    section at 12:22, 12:23 and 12:24 p.m., the proud parents declared
    grandma and babies to be doing well and said they hoped their
    extraordinary medical story would inspire other couples who have
    trouble conceiving.

    "Mommy's doing fine," the new father, Jason Hammond, 29, told
    reporters at a news conference at Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital.
    Then, motioning to his wife, Camille Hammond, he added: "Not this
    mommy. Grandma mommy. She's upstairs, doing well."

    The Hammonds, who live outside Baltimore and are medical residents at
    Johns Hopkins Hospital, said they had tried for several years to have
    a child but failed in six attempts at in-vitro fertilization. Camille
    Hammond has endometriosis, a condition that affects the lining of the

    It was then that Cade, who works at the University of Richmond,
    offered to become pregnant for the couple, a proposal that Hammond
    said her mother had been contemplating since Hammond's condition was
    diagnosed in 1993.

    "My mother approached us and asked if she could carry our babies,"
    said Camille Hammond, who teared up during the news conference.

    The couple resisted at first, Hammond said, fearful for Cade's health,
    but eventually relented. In May, doctors implanted three embryos
    formed by Camille Hammond's eggs and Jason Hammond's sperm into Cade,
    who was past menopause. Her primary doctor, James E. Jones Jr., said
    the process required coaxing Cade's uterus "out of retirement" for
    what turned out to be a 33-week pregnancy.

    Fertility experts said there have been similar cases, though the exact
    number is unknown. Such cases can enable infertile couples to have
    children while avoiding the expense and legal difficulties that can
    happen when an unrelated woman serves as a surrogate.

    "When families are emotionally sound, I think this is an ethically
    good thing," said Arthur Caplan, a medical ethicist at the University
    of Pennsylvania.

    But such cases also can raise a host of troubling issues, legally,
    socially and medically, other experts said Tuesday.

    For example, many states recognize the woman who gives birth to a baby
    as the legal mother, even if she is a surrogate, which can spur ugly
    custody battles. Virginia law, however, considers the mother to be the
    person who provided the embryo.

    Some experts expressed concern about the health of the woman carrying
    the child, especially if she is older and has to take hormones.
    In-vitro fertilization frequently produces twins and triplets, which
    can be risky.

    "The challenge with in-vitro fertilization in a 55-year-old lady is
    that her cardiovascular system might not handle the load," Jones said.
    He said doctors will continue to monitor Cade for potential heart
    problems in the immediate aftermath of the delivery.

    Such cases can also create unusual, sometimes difficult dynamics in
    family relationships.

    "All those people will be at family gatherings for years to come.
    Someone who has had an involvement of a nine-month pregnancy may want
    to have a role that goes beyond the role of a traditional
    grandmother," said Lori B. Andrews, who studies reproductive issues at
    the Chicago-Kent College of Law.

    Said R. Alta Charo of the University of Wisconsin at Madison: "The
    55-year-old woman giving birth will be the genetic grandmother but
    gestational mother to the baby. The woman who will be doing the
    rearing will be the genetic mother but gestational sister. I find
    these arrangements personally troubling."

    Jason Hammond said the experience of watching his mother-in-law grow
    with his children was "surreal." He praised Cade's husband, saying,
    "You can imagine he thought he was done dealing with a pregnant wife."
    And he praised Cade, who he said "is a wonderful lady who would do
    anything for her children -- as you can tell."

    For all the novelty of the circumstances, both Hammonds seemed more
    shellshocked by the reality of suddenly becoming parents of triplets.

    Jason Hammond said the couple has named the three children but has
    decided to keep the names secret for now. They are simply being called
    Baby A, Baby B and Baby C. The babies -- whose weights range from 3
    pounds, 12 ounces to 4 pounds, 10 ounces -- should be able to go home
    within a few weeks, doctors said.

    Camille Hammond said she was still grappling with the prospect that
    having three children could mean a new car and a bigger house. Jason
    Hammond said they had bought a stroller that fits three babies and
    joked that it provides "stadium seating" for the kids.

    Camille Hammond said she hopes the birth of the children will help
    other couples.

    "We just wanted to let people know if they're struggling with a
    problem . . . there may in fact be options they haven't considered
    that may be a little nontraditional," she said.

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