An Arizona woman who agreed to be a surrogate mother for a childless couple gave birth to quintuplets earlier this week (Tuesday 4/26) in Phoenix Arizona. It is the first time five babies have been born to a surrogate. More significantly, the surrogate mother has refused to be paid for her extraordinary services.
For thirteen years, Luisa Gonzalez and Enrique Moreno struggled unsuccessfully to have a family of their own. They finally decided to seek the help of a surrogate mother to bear their child, and located a surrogacy service on the Internet. There they met Teresa Anderson, a married mother of two who agreed to be paid 15 thousand dollars to have five of Luisa's eggs, which had been harvested in the laboratory and fertilized with Enrique's sperm -- implanted in her uterus. Doctors believed the five implants would raise the odds that at least one egg would develop into a baby. Everyone hoped for a successful pregnancy, but they got much more than they bargained for. All five implanted embryos took hold in Ms. Anderson's uterus.
The surrogate mother says that when she heard that news she decided not to accept any payment from the couple. "I think it's easy to understand, considering the circumstances. We've become really good friends." She adds, "'And with all their financial burden right now I don't think they need any more. So it was an easy decision."
On April 26th five boys -- Enrique, Jorge, Gabriel, Victor and Javier -- were delivered by Caesarean section at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix. Born in the 33rd week of Teresa Anderson's pregnancy -- seven weeks short of full-term - the babies weighed approximately 1 ½ kilos each (3.7 - 3.15 pounds), an average weight for quintuplets. Dr. John Elliot, who delivered the babies, says all five are in good condition, although one will need surgery to correct a heart defect.
"Baby Javier was the one with the cardiac defect and we're very grateful that he's doing better than we expected. So now he's going to get a little bigger and then start the three-step surgical procedure that will helpfully correct the circulation defect and give Javier a chance to live."
Dr. Elliot says the delivery room was more crowded than usual - ten doctors, fifteen nurses, the biological parents and a camera crew -- everyone excited by the quintuplets' arrival. But Dr. Elliot says the most heartwarming part of the experience was the close emotional bonds he saw between the babies' parents and the surrogate mother. "As I've watched the whole thing unfold, they have grown closer -- both families through the weeks that we've been working with them. And when she was pregnant with five, she said 'Enrique and Luisa need this more than we do, so I'm not going to take the money." He says, "That to me is the greatest act of giving -- she gave life to these parents -- to give the money back that they're going to need to feed, clothe and raise these babies, I think that's what people should be -- it's just wonderful."
Biological mother Luisa Gonzalez says she was overcome with emotion as she watched the birth of her first son. "When I saw the first baby, I started crying. And I held Teresa's hand and said, 'Thank you.' And we kept crying and crying. That's something I waited for, for thirteen years."
The babies will remain at the hospital for approximately three more weeks. That will give parents Luisa and Enrique more time to prepare for their new family and Teresa Anderson a chance to focus more on her own, who have anxiously awaited her return home. Both couples say they hope to remain in touch as the quintuplets grow older. Teresa Anderson says she will consider becoming a surrogate again or maybe have more children of her own in the future. She says "I think I am blessed with such a gift, it is hard to give it up."