Friend plays surrogate for woman longing for a baby
A B.C. woman is almost six months pregnant, but the baby isn't hers -- it's her close friend's. The pair is part of a growing trend of women needing help from medicine to have a baby.
Andrea Fischer is 40 and single and had almost given up on her dream to be a mother. At the age of 25, she had cervical cancer and had a hysterectomy. The cancer was gone, but so was any chance of becoming pregnant.
A few years ago, Fischer confided in her friend Kerry Greenley about her wish to have a child. Greenley says they would always scheme about how to get Andrea a baby.
But after meeting another surrogate mother, Greenley decided she would offer to carry Andrea's child.
"I was speechless," Fischer said. "This is a dream. How do you ask someone to borrow their body for nine months?"
Fischer and Greenley then began in-vitro fertilization treatment at the Genesis Fertility Centre in Vancouver. Fischer's eggs were fertilized by an American sperm donor and the embryo implanted in Greenley.
"It was a dream come true. My child is on the way," Fischer said.
As for Greenley's motivation?
"It's giving a really amazing gift and that makes me feel really good. It's not as selfless as people think. I am definitely getting something out of it," she said.
Greenley has a 14-year-old son and wants her friend to experience the joy of motherhood. She adds that it's very difficult for someone to ask you to be a surrogate, so if you think you can do it, offer.
Surrogacy has been legal in Canada since 2004 but it's against the law to pay a surrogate -- the intended parent is only allowed to cover expenses. Surrogacy is unregulated, so there are still plenty of grey areas about expenses and rights of both parties.
Fischer and Greenley signed a 23-page surrogacy agreement to deal with potential problems.
Larry Kahn, the Richmond lawyer who wrote the contract, is a leading expert in this area. He writes about 35 surrogacy contracts a year, but that number has been steadily climbing. He says it's time to allow payments for surrogates, and that the ban on paying them has just driven the practice underground.
Fischer and Greenley also want surrogates to be paid and regulated so others could have the same opportunities to have a family. They know their situation is rare and that it's very difficult for someone to find a surrogate in Canada.
Greenley's due date is Feb. 13. They know it's a girl. Fischer has decided her name will be Isabella.
"If anybody else can give the gift that Kerry has given me, there are no words to describe it"
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Mi-Jung Lee