Sunday, January 25, 1987
Story by Jim Brooks
New surrogate procedure uses wife's egg to produce a baby who belongs to the
couple 100 percent genetically. Is it a godsend or more fuel to the controversy
that rages around the surrogate industry?
In what may only be the second or third infant born in the United States, and
possibly the world, through such a procedure, a Los Angeles doctor has taken
women's eggs, fertilized them with their husband's sperm and successfully
implanted the embryos in the wombs of two surrogate mothers. The two births are
expected this spring and summer.
Where the new procedure differs is that the surrogate no longer contributes an
egg. Both the egg and sperm come from the couple, producing a child "that does
not belong biologically in any part or form" to the surrogate mother, says Dr.
Jaroslav Marik of the Tyler Medical Clinic in Westwood.
I don't see why the sexual act of intercourse is the only accepted way of
reproduction," says Marik, who implanted the fertilized egg of an L.A.-area
woman in the womb of a San Bernardino County surrogate last October. "If this
were so, then adoption would be impossible. All the babies that are conceived
and not wanted by the biological parents would have to be gas-chambered or shot
or thrown from some cliff or something, because it was not your sexual act with
your wife that was the base of the offspring.... That's how it would be if you
carried (the argument) all the way."
Marik, an obstetrician-gynecologist by training, has been with the Tyler Clinic,
a pioneer in the field of infertility, for 15 years. Since 1975, he has worked
with surrogacy and artificial insemination as an answer for the one in six
couples who find themselves infertile.
Last Year, when 39-year-old Gillian (not her real name) approached him, he found
a likely candidate for his initial efforts to combine in vitro fertilization -
the process of fertilizing an egg in a laboratory dish - and surrogacy. Gillian,
a mother of two who had undergone a hysterectomy, was remarried three years ago,
and she and her husband wanted another child. Although the hysterectomy had left
her without a uterus, or womb, her ovaries still function.
Gillian was matched to a surrogate in June. Marik subsequently began working to
bring the two women's ovulating cycles into sync, one of the more difficult
aspects of the procedure. In fact, an earlier effort with another woman was
abandoned "when the timing wasn't working the way I wanted," Marik says.
The doctor canceled Gillian's cycle in September when the medication didn't
perform as planned, but the following month proved successful on all counts.
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