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The What and How Of Surrogate Motherhood: Chapter 4

“MYTH: Especially amongst laymen, it is held that: “Since the fetus is inside the mother’s womb, then the mother’s blood also circulates through the fetal body” Dean Maria Diaz-Avelino, M.S., Ed.D.

DEFINING SURROGATE MOTHERHOOD    

Let it be clear that this book believes and respects what the Bible teaches that Mary is the mother of the Man Jesus.

Science and technology keep on advancing that mysteries of the past are no mysteries anymore and can now be explained with scientific facts and these clearly support what the Bible has been saying. Proving that Science is in harmony with God’s Word. The mystery is not in Mary.

Be patient in reading as we slowly come to understand why and how Science proves that Mary has no blood in Jesus, hence, the blood of the Christ is of God. “NOT because God has impregnated Mary by sex” but simply because of God’s Science which will be explained further.

This will prove, likewise, that God is not a liar to say that He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. Therefore, the Triune God the Creator who as God has no mother.

Mary, the first Surrogate Mother as a book has an excerpt from the then thesis for the Master of Science requirement of Former College of Medical Technology Dean Maria D. Avelino, presented, almost four decades (40 years) ago, to the Graduate School of the University of Santo Tomas, the oldest Catholic school in the Philippines, revealing some unbelievable truths that have something to do with pregnancy.

Let us begin this way.

MYTH: Especially amongst laymen, it is held that: “Since the fetus is inside the mother’s womb, then the mother’s blood also circulates through the fetal body”.

          SCIENTIFIC FACTS: Blood is a chemically complex and viscous fluid that circulates through the heart, arteries, veins, arterioles, and to the capillaries. Oxygenated blood flows from the heart through the aorta into the arteries and to the capillaries. There oxygen, nutrients, and other substances pass into the cells of tissues and organs.

         Pregnancy begins from conception. When a man’s sperm cell (spermatozoon) meet the woman’s egg (ovum), fertilization takes place at once and the nuclei of these two cells fuse forming a single cell called zygote. Normally, fertilization takes place inside the woman’s womb and is termed in-vivo fertilization. But when fertilization takes place outside the womb by artificial means, it is called an in-vitro fertilization (IVF), laboratory fertilization or test tube fertilization, and the baby, as a result, of this method is known as a “test tube baby”.

In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) method can be performed using the egg and sperm of the wife and husband. The fertilized ovum or zygote may be implanted into the womb of the biological mother from where the egg was taken (Traditional Surrogacy) or it may be planted into the womb of another woman as in the case of our celebrities (chapter three) as per their respective stories (Gestational Surrogacy).

When the zygote is implanted into the uterus of another woman who is not the biological mother and who will carry to full term until the birth of the baby, this biomedical technique is known as “surrogate motherhood”. Surrogate means substitute, from the Latin word “surrogatus”, or in place of another.

What is the implication of in-vitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood in medicine today?

Women with Fallopian tube blockages cannot conceive because their eggs cannot travel through their Fallopian tubes to get fertilized.

Dr. Patrick Steptoe and Dr. Robert Edwards have successfully solved this problem when they implanted the in-vitro fertilized ovum (zygote) into the womb of Lesley Brown and gave birth to the well-known first successful test tube baby named Louise Joy Brown who was born on July 25, 1978 in Great Britain. Plenty of IVF babies have been born since then.

A Filipino TV series fiction story entitled “Ina (mother), Kapatid (sister) Anak (daughter)” tells about a wife who cannot bear a child for some medical problems. So, the egg from the wife and the sperm from the husband were subjected to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and the fertilized egg was implanted into the uterus of the wife’s sister who became the surrogate mother.

Now, the question is, does a surrogate mother contribute blood to the developing fetal body? Does a baby inherit the characteristics from a surrogate mother?

Before we can answer those questions, let us first understand more scientific facts.

Normally, in the zygote nucleus, one-half of the 46 chromosomes have come from the sperm cell and one half from the ovum. Since chromosomes are composed of genes or inheritance determinants, the new being inherits one half of the characteristics from the biological father and one half from the biological mother. From a single cell, the zygote will begin to grow by a process of self-division, feeding mainly on the food which it finds within self. Up to the third month of pregnancy known as embryo, thereafter as fetus until birth.

In the third and fourth, the fetus is suspended by a stalk from the inside of the uterus called allantois which later forms the placenta. Interchange of gases, foods and wastes between the fetal and maternal blood takes place in the placenta.

During pregnancy, all the soluble elements such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates, salts, minerals, and even antibodies pass freely from the mother (biological or surrogate) to the fetus and the waste products of the fetus’ metabolism are passed back to the mother’s circulation, no actual mixing of the fetal blood and the maternal blood occur normally since each flow in its own capillaries.      

From the time of conception to the time of birth of the infant, not one drop of blood ever passes from the mother to the unborn baby. The fetal blood and the maternal blood do not come into actual contact. They are separated from each other by the walls of the fetal blood vessels and the epithelial layers of the chronic villi which are microscopic, fingerlike projections that make up the placenta. Therefore, all the blood which is in that child is produced within the child itself. The mother contributes no blood at all to the developing embryo.

What happens when there is an accidental mixing of the maternal blood with the fetal blood due to a tear or leakage from the placenta?

When this happens and if there is a blood group incompatibility, for example, the maternal blood is Rh (-) while the fetal blood is Rh (+), Erythroblastosis fetalis or hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn may result which is fatal if not early detected and treated. Fatal here may mean death is usually the result.

There are two types of Surrogacy:

Traditional Surrogacy
Traditional Surrogacy creates a genetic link between potential parents and Surrogate mother, that’s why this type of surrogacy is very rarely chosen by the infertile patients. By using traditional surrogacy, the surrogate acts as both an egg donor and actual surrogate as well, where she is impregnated with semen from the intended parents or any Sperm donor.

This process is completed by using a process known as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Here, the surrogate herself either undergoes artificial insemination or IVF with sperm from the male or from a sperm donor. The surrogate herself provides the eggs and is therefore genetically related to the child. Therefore, with traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is also called the biological mother of the child.

Gestational Surrogacy
With Gestational Surrogacy, there is no biological connection between the Surrogate and the baby. Surrogate becomes pregnant through IVF procedure in which the eggs of the potential mother or the Egg Donor gets developed into embryos with the sperm of Intended father or Sperm donor. These embryos are then transferred into the gestational mother (Surrogate mother, Not Biological).

In this complete process the child will not have any biological relation with the surrogate mother. Gestational Surrogacy is the most commonly done.

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Ricardo V. Avelino

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