February 01, 2009

Octuplet mom "obsessed" with kids -- all 14 by IVF

Octuplets' Mom "Obsessed" With Having Kids:
Her Mom Says All 14 Of Unmarried Daughter's Children Resulted From In-Vitro; Ethics Debate Rages On
The woman who gave birth to octuplets this week conceived all 14 of her children through in-vitro fertilization, is not married, and has been obsessed with having children since she was a teenager, her mother said.
A physician has clear ethical responsibilities to primum non nocere, first do no harm. In-vitro fertilization is a process in which eggs are collected from the mother, the "shell" is cracked and sperm are incubated with them in a "test-tube" environment. When an embryo is ready, it is placed in the mother. It is not guaranteed that this embryo will implant itself on the endometrial lining, nor that it will persist to full-term. To increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy, the U.S. allows up to TWO embryos to be implanted (except in unusual circumstances.)

EIGHT embryos were implanted in this woman! What sort of infertility condition does she have that warrants this risk to herself and her babies?!?
Angela Suleman said her daughter always had trouble conceiving and underwent in-vitro fertilization treatments because her fallopian tubes are "plugged up."
That doesn't count for squat. If she has no uterine anatomic defects or dysregulation in her menstrual cycle (problems involving the ovaries)... it doesn't make sense to me that she needs this! Except for the fact that she's obsessed -- clearly something that a physician should discuss in depth with a mother-to-be. At the very least, a referral to a good psychiatrist as this obsession clearly was affecting her relationship with her parents.
There were frozen embryos left over after her previous pregnancies and her daughter didn't want them destroyed, so she decided to have more children.

Her mother and doctors have said the woman was told she had the option to abort some of the embryos and, later, the fetuses. She refused.

Her mother said she doesn't believe her daughter will have any more children.

"She doesn't have any more (frozen embryos), so it's over now," she said. "It has to be."
Ah. Now the story is being made more clear, although in somewhat oblique terms. Here's a mother who believes that it would be unethical to discard her other embryos. I can imagine what this discussion went like with the doctor.

"Doc, how many embryos do I have?"
"We have eight embryos left over from your previous IVF."
"Doc, I'm pro-life. I don't want to kill these babies. Will you implant all of them?"
"Uhm, ok."

Sarcasm aside, this woman's belief (after artificially creating embryos) about the sanctity of life endangered her own life and those of her children. Most people are not aware that as women age, many embryos do not even make it to term due to chromosomal abnormalities, failure of implantation, etc. We do not blame women for these silent miscarriages. The idea of being "pro-life" is attractive because of its simplicity... but the reality of the situation is that "life" itself begins on a spectrum of convening factors. It's not merely the union of an egg and sperm. The full extent of this topic should be the subject of another post -- and if I'm going to compose my thoughts well enough to make a statement that I'd stand behind, it would have to be a damn good one.
Yolanda Garcia, 49, of Whittier, said she helped care for Nadya Suleman's autistic son three years ago.

"From what I could tell back then, she was pretty happy with herself, saying she liked having kids and she wanted 12 kids in all," Garcia told the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

"She told me that all of her kids were through in vitro, and I said 'Gosh, how can you afford that and go to school at the same time?'" she added. "And she said it's because she got paid for it."
Aaand this speaks of even more ethical grayness. I really feel bad for this lady now. Not only is she single with fourteen kids, at least one of them has special needs. I don't get it though. She was paid to do what? Donate eggs? Participate in an experiment for multiple gestation pregnancy? This story has opened up so many doors to all sorts of controversies in medicine, it's quite incredible. Even more so because I imagine that the general lay-public has enough understanding to wonder at technology producing octuplets but not enough to feel the chill of incompetence in doing so.

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