Entries in Surrogate (4)


Triplets Owe Lives to Super Surrogate Who Birthed 15 Babies

Courtesy Jodi Wegge(STURGEON LAKE, Minn.) -- When Jodi Wegge gave birth to her daughter Lindsay in 1999, the baby was three and a half weeks early and a breech birth.  The placenta erupted and she had an emergency cesarean section, losing so much blood that she died on the table for 32 seconds as her organs shut down.

"The baby was fine, and I had a two percent chance," said Wegge from Sturgeon Lake, Minn, now 47.  She lost her uterus in a hysterectomy, but luckily retained her ovaries.

Today, Wegge's daughter is 16, but she also has 13-year-old biological triplets who were conceived through in vitro fertilization with her husband Dan's sperm and her own eggs.

She owes it all to gestational carrier Meredith Olafson, who at the age of 47 has just "retired" her uterus after giving birth to 15 children, four of them her own.

The Wegge triplets were the first of 11 surrogate children that Olafson delivered over the last 16 years.  And on March 29, she gave birth to her 11th and last surrogate child, a girl.

"I am stopping because of my age and six C-sections," said Olafson, a private nurse from Fargo, N.D., and a grandmother.  "It's kind of a lot, and it's time to say we're done."

The Wegge triplets were the first children born from a gestational carrier in the state.  The families hired a private attorney who eventually helped write the laws of surrogacy in North Dakota.

"I love her," Wegge said of Olafson.  "I call her every year on their birthday at 7 in the morning.  When the phone rings on April 29, she knows it's me and I simply say, 'Thank you.'"

Olafson, who has four children of her own aged 16 to 24, has given birth to two sets of triplets and a set of twins, as well as three singletons.  None of them are her biological children because the parents supplied the embryos.

"We never went into it to make money," said Olafson, who has a sense of humor and the full support of husband Jay.  "Our intention was for people who are unable to have their own children to go through the same torment as we went through with our children."

"It is easier on families, too, knowing they are their kids -- and for my family, knowing they are not related to them," she said.

Olafson is, perhaps, the most prolific surrogate mother in the United States, only outdone by Carole Horlock, a British woman who has given birth to 12 babies for other women and now lives in France.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New York Mom of Twins Born Via Surrogate Denied Leave

John Guillemin / Bloomberg News(NEW YORK) -- A woman who used a surrogate to give birth to her twins is suing her employer in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts for refusing to grant her paid maternity leave.

Kara Krill, a clinical business manager on New York's Long Island, has claimed breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, and negligent misrepresentation against Cubist Pharmaceuticals, headquartered in Lexington, Massachussetts.  She seeks an injunction and compensatory and punitive damages for employment law violations.

Krill, who developed a reproductive disability called Asherman's syndrome after she gave birth to her first child in June 2007, and her husband hired a surrogate mother, or gestational carrier, to carry and deliver their second child.  After learning the gestational carrier was pregnant with twins in November 2010, Krill informed her employer that she expected to be on maternity leave when the twins were born in May 2010, according to the suit.

Krill and her husband also obtained a prebirth order that "established the legal and genetic parentage of Drill's twins without having to institute adoption proceedings," according to court documents.

When Krill had her first child in June 2007, she received 13 weeks of paid leave under Cubist's maternity leave policy.

But a Cubist human resources employee informed Krill she would be entitled to adopting parents' leave of five days.  The company provides adopting parents who work 20 hours or more per week five paid days of leave plus up to $4,000 in expenses for the adoption, according to court documents.  The company's paternity leave policy also provides male employees who work 20 hours or more per week five paid days of leave.

In an email to the human resources employee, Krill complained about what she said was discriminatory treatment.

"As we have previously informed you, the children being born are mine and were conceived with my husband.  They are only being carried by [a gestational carrier] as a result of my physical disability... Cubist's treatment of me differently than other employees having babies is not fair and is placing me in an untenable condition," she wrote, according to the lawsuit.

The suit also claims that Krill's direct supervisor subjected Krill to "verbal harassment and other adverse treatment," "frequently" patronizing Krill about her disability.  That employee "told her pointedly on several different occasions that she should not be entitled to any leave from Cubist for the birth of her children, whether paid or unpaid," according to court documents.

When Krill informed her boss she was required to be with her newborn children for a minimum of 12 weeks, her boss told Krill that she could "'put [her] twins in daycare,' so she could come back to work sooner.'"  Her boss also informed Krill she was "changing her sales quota expectations and taking away one of Krill's largest customer accounts and assigning it to another Cubist employee who was not disabled, and not going out on maternity leave."

Francis McLoughlin, director of corporate communications at Cubist, said the company could not comment on ongoing litigation but that it "tries to maintain positive work relations at the company."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Surrogate Mom Damages Heart After Four Babies

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(Waterbury, Conn.) -- Karma Daigle of Waterbury, Conn., loved being pregnant with her son Gabriel, who is now 9, but after her divorce in 2004, she longed to have another child and knew that without a husband, it might not ever happen.

So she turned to gestational surrogacy, giving birth to four more children -- first Zoe in 2006, then her twin siblings Sebastian and Lukas in 2008 for a American couple living in Romania, and then Lucas Tomas in 2010 for a Chicago family.

Both couples were gay men who used their own sperm and donor eggs for in vitro fertilization (IVF).

They paid her $19,000 to $25,000 a pregnancy, and she signed legal papers giving away all rights to the children and holding the couples harmless for any potential medical problems, including her possible death.

But being a surrogate mother can be risky. Daigle developed preeclampsia in the final pregnancy that has left her with heart damage.

Though she might never be able to safely have another pregnancy and give her biological son Gabriel the siblings he longs for, Daigle said she would do it all again.

Daigle, now 32 and married for a second time, appreciated the money, buying a house and paying for her wedding -- but most of all she wanted to help others who couldn't carry their own child.

Emotionally, parting with her babies was not a problem, according to Daigle.

"Everybody goes through the baby blues and for every pregnancy that lasted three days. It was hard on my body but it didn't traumatize me. I knew what I was getting in to."

Surrogate mothers have been used since the 1970s, but the first highly publicized case -- "Baby M" -- was in 1976.

Mary Beth Whitehead gave birth to a girl she had agreed to carry for an infertile couple. But as the biological mother, she changed her mind. She sued for custody, but was denied.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimates that there were 400 to 600 surrogate births annually from 2003 to 2007, the last year for which data is available.

Support groups and agencies say the total number since 1976 may exceed 30,000.

The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) is the only organization that makes an effort to track surrogate births, but at least 15 percent of the clinics across the United States don't report their numbers, according to a 2008 investigation by Newsweek magazine. And private arrangements, most notably in the gay community, are on the rise.

Surrogacy is banned in much of Europe and in 12 states, including New York, New Jersey, and Michigan, which refuse to recognize surrogacy contracts. Texas, Illinois, Utah, and Florida have recently passed laws to legalize the practice, but in many states laws are still vague.

Surrogacy experts say women need to be educated about entering into surrogacy before completing their families. Multiple pregnancies -- especially twins, which are more common in IVF -- can be risky. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Making Surrogate Treatment Decisions Can Take Its Toll

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BETHESDA, Md.) -- When crisis strikes and a person is no longer able to make their own medical decisions, spouses, adult children, siblings and others find themselves in the role of surrogate decision-makers, trying to make the best, yet often difficult, decisions for their loved ones.  Studies have shown that the critical role of the surrogate decision-maker can be incredibly stressful.

For the first time, a study has systematically examined on a large scale the psychological after-effects of decision making on surrogates.  Researchers at the National Institute of Health reviewed 40 published articles providing data on 2,832 surrogates who were surveyed several months to years after making treatment decisions, including end-of-life decisions.

At least one-third of the surrogates experienced negative effects including stress and anxiety, and these effects were often substantial and lasted for months or years. But surrogates that knew the patient’s wishes – if, for example, the patient had a living will – suffered less stress than surrogates acting without advance directive.

The findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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