A British woman has given birth to her cousin, as part of a surrogacy arrangement to help her aunt. The 29-year-old mother of three became pregnant from sperm donated by her aunt's husband, to whom she was not related by blood. This resulted in the birth of a baby girl who is both her biological daughter and cousin.
The baby's mother, Mrs Sandra Barlow, the aunt of the surrogate Mrs Emma Vaughan said: 'Surrogacy seemed like our only hope. I did some research and looked at a surrogacy agency website. I was in awe that people did these amazing things for complete strangers but I wanted to do it within the family'.
Barlow had been attempting to conceive with her husband, Chris, for 15 years. IVF had not proven successful, with Barlow having two miscarriages. Further investigation into Barlow's fertility problems revealed that her fallopian tubes had closed up and needed to be removed, leaving her unable to conceive naturally. The couple then sought other alternatives, including surrogacy.
'We decided to use Emma's egg as by the time we started I was almost 40. Generally the egg condition of a woman in her 40s is not as good as someone in their 20s. Emma also wasn't keen on taking the drugs she would need if my eggs were used', said Barlow.
The use of Vaughan's eggs and Mr Barlow's sperm meant that the baby girl would genetically be both Vaughan's daughter and cousin. This is allowed under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act and does not contravene UK incest laws. In England and Wales, upon birth of the baby, the legal mother is the surrogate until a parental order is applied for and approved by the courts. Barlow therefore only gained legal parental rights over the baby following this procedure.
'The surrogate mother is the legal mother, and is free to keep the child until a parental order is made. The attraction of using a relative as the surrogate is that she is less likely to change her mind - and of course it maintains the family link', said family law specialist Harjit Sarang. Barlow is now legally the mother of baby girl, Maia Barlow.