21 February 2011
ByAppeared in BioNews 596
A 61-year-old woman gave birth to her grandson in February because her daughter couldn't maintain a pregnancy. Kristine Casey, who may be the oldest woman to give birth to her grandson, volunteered to act as a surrogate after her daughter, Sara Connell, failed to bring two IVF pregnancies to term. Mrs Connell and her husband had also tried to conceive naturally for years without success. Mrs Connell said: 'The idea of having a family member being open to doing this for us was so extraordinary'.
Mrs Casey gave birth 10 years after menopause using the Connells' eggs and sperm thanks to hormone treatments that prepared her uterus for pregnancy. With them, the pregnancy success rate is independent of the surrogate's age. She became pregnant after the second course of IVF and gave birth by caesarean section 39 weeks later. Dr Susan Gerber, the doctor who delivered baby Finnean Connell in Chicago, said: 'The surgery itself was uncomplicated, and the emotional context of this delivery was so profound'.
Media reaction has varied with some finding story unsettling while others have welcomed the birth. Margaret Somerville in the Globe and Mail wrote an article titled 'When granny gives birth to her grandson, there's something wrong' in which she says 'my gut reaction was that this was ethically wrong'. Josephine Johnston, a bioethics researcher at The Hastings Centre, New York, however, said: 'It seems like an unquestionably loving and generous thing for a family member to do. It's one of those situations where outsiders might wonder if it's OK or healthy. But the experience of that child and his family will be that it's good'.