An American woman in Nebraska gave birth to her granddaughter on 25 March at the age of 61. “If you want me to be the gestational carrier, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” Cecile Eledge had said to her son Matthew.
Little Uma Louise was born to Cecile a few days ago; she is the result of an oocyte provided by the sister of Elliot – Matthew’s husband – fertilized with Matthew’s gametes. The couple refused to use strangers: “For us it was important to have control over what was happening. We were able to experience this pregnancy in our own way,” explained the biological father.
And what about carrying her son’s child? “There was no moment of hesitation. It was natural instinct,” Cecile Eledge told KETV NewsWatch. However, this situation is far from natural.
From a legal point of view, the child’s parentage remains problematic. Matthew and his mother must be considered as the father and mother, which amounts to an incestuous relationship. “This looks really creepy for us for us,” Matthew admitted. He is said to be considering having his and Elliot’s names appear as Parent 1 and Parent 2. And to get closer to biological reality, Lea, the oocyte donor, could be added as Parent 3 and Cecile as Parent 4. But having four legal parents is also creepy. Especially since while this arrangement might suit the couple, what about the child?
At the same time, “to become pregnant, you need sex hormones that work,” explained Dr Louis-Dominique Van Egroo, a medical gynaecologist. Cecile Eledge “had been post-menopausal for 10 years“. In addition, Van Egroo continued, “for a post-menopausal woman to receive a fertilized oocyte, the uterus must be artificially prepared with hormones to avoid miscarriage“. Finally, as with any late pregnancy, the surrogate mother took considerable risks, both for herself and the child. Complications for the mother during pregnancy and childbirth include cardiovascular problems, the need for a caesarean section and the risk of post-partum bleeding.
“The potential problems mainly affect women, but the side effects of a cardiovascular problem will have a definite impact on the child,” explained Professor Bernard Hédon, obstetrician/gynaecologist and outgoing president of the French National College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (CNGOF). “There is also the possibility of intrauterine growth restriction, which may be related to poor placental circulation since the quality of the placenta deteriorates,” said Dr Van Egroo. “This can lead to low or high birth weight, as well as complications and disease. In many cases, the foetus’s life in utero is what programmes the individual’s future life and health”.
Despite her age, doctors at the University of Nebraska centre accepted Cecile Eledge after a series of tests. This surrogacy cost $40,000, i.e. €35,700.