Entries in Reproduction (3)


Bates Family of 20 Says They're Praying for More Children

Creatas/Thinkstock(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) -- Despite already having 18 biological kids, one Tennessee couple says they are praying for more children.

The Bates family lives in a five-bedroom house outside of Knoxville, Tenn., with their 18 children. Zach is their oldest at age 22, and Judson is their youngest at 11 months.

"We never planned on having 18 children," Gil Bates, a 46-year-old tree surgeon, said.

"I feel like together, in marriage, we began to grow in this direction," his wife, Kelly Bates, added.

The Bates are evangelical Christians who do not believe in the use of birth control. Kelly, a 44-year-old stay-at-home mom, has been pregnant every year for the past 22 years -- which some might consider to be a medical marvel -- and doesn't shy away from the thought of having more children.

"Whatever the Lord desires," she said. "We decided, a long time ago, to let the Lord decide how many children we would have."

Kelly Bates has endured labor and delivery 18 separate times -- no twins and no C-sections. To top it off, 14 of those births were at home, meaning no epidurals or anesthesia.

With 20 people living under one roof, the Bates children have to share everything from their parents' attention to their bedrooms. But none of the kids mind -- in fact, they like it.

Today, the Bates brood includes Zach, 22; Michaella, 21; Erin, 20; Lawson, 19; Nathan, 18; Alyssa, 16; Tori, 15; Trace, 14; Carlin, 13; Josie, 12; Katie, 10; Jackson, 9; Warden, 8; Isaiah, 6; Addallee, 5; Ellie, 4; Callie, 2; and finally, Judson, 11 months.

"They are all so different," Kelly said. "No two are alike."

Although Gil and Kelly Bates say having any more children is in God's hands, there's no denying that the whole family wants more kids. Between Ellie and Callie (kids number 16 and 17) there was a short stint when Kelly wasn't getting pregnant. Kelly said the kids were scared of the thought of not having any more siblings and turned to prayer. The children wanted to have more babies so badly, Gil said, that they even asked if they could fast.

But Kelly's body has changed with age and she is heading into the outer reaches of her child-bearing years. She had two miscarriages before her last two successful births with Callie and Judson. A low progesterone level was making it more difficult to sustain a pregnancy.

"Conception takes place, but the uterus wall is not softened so the baby can implant," Gil said. "And so it was causing us to lose the baby."

Kelly started a hormone therapy to maximize her chances of carrying to term. They had Callie and then Judson, their youngest. Although they don't believe in using birth control to prevent pregnancy, Kelly said using medicine to help keep a pregnancy was a different matter altogether.

"For us, that would be like, that baby is already alive. It is a life," she said. "We don't try to prevent or to promote. We just want to trust God. But at the same time, if there's already a life living, we don't want to deny medical help to a baby that's in trouble."

All 18 births have gone smoothly without complications, except for one: Addallee, baby number 15.

"Addalee is our special little baby because she almost didn't make it," Kelly said. "Addallee stopped breathing and her heart stopped."

Little Addallee was rushed to the hospital after she was born prematurely and spent 17 days there -- a very expensive hospital stay.

"We didn't have insurance," Gil said. "We negotiated with the insurance, with the hospitals, and I said, 'I know insurance companies don't pay full price, could we set up a payment plan based on what you would feel is a justified -- a fair price.' They graciously worked with us."

Today, Addallee, whom everyone calls "Addee," has slight hearing problems but is otherwise healthy, and the Bates continue on without any health insurance.

"For the last 10 children, we have not had health insurance," Gil said. "When there's a medical emergency, we just go to the doctor and America's been the greatest health care in the world. When you walk in the emergency room, I don't care what your status of living, they give you the best care possible."

The Bates' pre-natal care is provided free of charge at a small Christian clinic, and earlier this year, they got the news they were pregnant with baby number 19.

But eight weeks into the pregnancy, the baby died -- a devastating loss for the family. Kelly's two previous miscarriages occurred just a few days after a positive pregnancy test, well before they could see a heart. The couple later named the baby Zion after the hymn "Marching to Zion."

It was six weeks before the couple was able to start trying again, a process that required careful medical guidance from their OB/GYN. Gil and Kelly say their main concern is being able to conceive again.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Baby-Selling Enterprise Busted, Three Plead Guilty

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- A California attorney specializing in reproductive rights used her inside knowledge to run an elaborate baby-selling ring.

Theresa Erickson, 43, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for transmitting fake documents to the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego and falsifying information to the couples whose babies were born through surrogates she recruited.

"This case serves as a reminder to people who are desperate to have a child that you must be cautious," FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth told ABC News.

Erickson's ruse was complex, but she skirted the legal system thanks to her high-profile work.

She has appeared on national television and wrote a book called Assisted Reproduction: The Complete Guide to Having a Baby with the Help of a Third Party.

Her two partners in the scheme, Hilary Neiman, 32, a Maryland attorney, and Carla Chambers, 51, of Las Vegas, both pleaded guilty for their roles in helping Erickson recruit women to act as surrogates. They'd travel to Ukraine, where they were implanted with donated sperm and eggs.

American doctors are required to check for documentation of a surrogacy agreement before implanting an embryo. The standards are lax in Ukraine, so Erickson sent her recruits there for the procedure.

Once the women hit the second trimester, Erickson would put the babies on the market under the false pretense that the original surrogate parents had backed out of the agreement. She even filed fraudulent paperwork in court to back up her story.

Couples were charged between $100,000 and $150,000 for each baby. Surrogates who completed the pregnancy were paid between $38,000 and $40,000.

The FBI became involved after it received complaints from gestational carriers, said Special Agent Foxworth.

Erickson's baby-selling ring placed a dozen babies in homes, where they will remain.

In total, she profited $70,000. It is unclear how much Chambers and Neiman received.

It is unclear whether Erickson has children of her own.

Her attorney, Ezekiel Cortez, had no comment on the case.

Erickson will be sentenced on Oct. 28 and faces up to five years in prison.

Along with a $250,000 federal fine, she was also ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to each of the 12 families.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Genetic Cause of Male Infertility Identified

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Human infertility affects about 14 percent of the world’s population. In about half of the cases, the cause lies with the male partner.  Although the culprit of male infertility is often a low sperm count, or abnormal sperm motility or morphology, researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine identify a new cause in their paper published in Science Translational Medicine.  They say a genetic variation not uncommon in both European and Chinese men may also cause male infertility.  

Turns out that if men have a particular variant of a gene called DEFB126, their sperm have an 84 percent reduced ability to move through cervical mucus, thereby reducing their likelihood of ever reaching and fertilizing the egg.  The authors found that wives of men with this genetic variation were much less likely to become pregnant and were 30 percent less likely to actually give birth compared to wives of men without the genetic variation.

The author of an accompanying editorial writes that “if replicated in future studies, these findings promise to guide choices about the timing and type of assisted reproduction interventions, and further hint at the possibility of treating sperm from [men with this genetic variation] to promote fertility.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio