Infertile couple get 30 offers of surrogacy after going public

By Sarah Harris

Almost 30 potential surrogates have contacted a couple who went public with their fertility issues last weekend, making an emotional appeal for a surrogate so they can have a baby.

Richard Henderson, 40, said the support made him feel optimistic that the dream that he shares with wife Ankita Majumder, 39, of enjoying parenthood would become a reality.

"I'm relieved now that we will almost certainly be able to have a child," he said.

"I think we've got a very good chance of making this happen successfully now."

Henderson and Majumder shared their heartbreak over failed attempts to have a child with the Herald on Sunday last week.

As a last resort, the couple went online to find a traditional surrogate and started a Facebook page to aid their search. Potential surrogates had contacted them via email and the page.

When she was 21, Majumder was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. The small cysts create a hormonal imbalance, making it more difficult to get pregnant.

Since then she has suffered five miscarriages and has undergone several rounds of different procedures in a bid to have a baby. They include: five rounds of artificial insemination, two rounds of in vitro fertilisation, eight embryo transfers, ovulation induction (trying to increase ovulation with medication) and ovarian drilling (small holes drilled in ovaries to release more eggs).

The couple are calling for a traditional surrogate, where the woman's own egg is fertilised by the father's sperm and she carries the child. Majumder and Henderson would adopt after it was born.

Commercial surrogacy is not permitted in New Zealand so the surrogate mother cannot be paid. However, she can be compensated for all expenses.

Fertility specialist Dr Mary Birdsall said 15 to 20 surrogacy cycles happen in New Zealand each year with about one third of those resulting in a successful birth.

All surrogacies need to be approved by an ethics committee and counselling reports are required for both parties involved.

The intending parents and the surrogate need to consider a range of possibilities such as; the possibility of the birth mother wishing to keep the child, the intending parents not wishing to adopt the child, the possibility of a multiple birth, the risk of rejection of a child born with a disability or abnormality not diagnosed during pregnancy, the possibility of a legal abortion if a child is diagnosed before birth with a disability or abnormality and the amount of influence the intending parents have over the birth mother's lifestyle during her pregnancy.

Despite the wave of support Henderson urged women who were considering helping the pair to still get in touch. He said it was likely some of the women would change their minds as they went through the process and some may be eliminated for medical reasons.

"If you're considering offering your help don't think 'they're all good now, I won't say anything'. We'd still love to hear from anyone kind enough to consider being our surrogate."

Henderson said one candidate had reached out to them who was under 20 and was currently pregnant.

As a next step, Henderson plans to create a questionnaire to send to all the women in a bid to gather as much information in possible. Then the couple would meet the candidates in person to discuss the process further.

• Email rasurrogate@gmail.com to contact the couple.

- Herald on Sunday

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