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The Baby Who Cannot Exist Officially 2006-03-01

Posted by clype in Articles of Interest, Intolerance, Science.

A Russian woman has become a grandmother two years on from the death of her only son after his frozen sperm was used by a surrogate mother.

But the grandmother's hopes of keeping the child have been ruined by Russian bureaucracy which refuses to recognise the baby's existence.

Ms.Ekaterina Zakarova, 55, a headmistress, lost her law student son Andrei two years ago. Last year she managed to persuade physicians to use his frozen sperm to fertilise a donor egg that was then implanted into a surrogate mother who agreed to hand the baby over to Ms.Zakarova. Three months ago Georgi was born and Ms.Zakarova felt her 'life complete once more'.

But she soon became mired in a nightmare of Orwellian proportions, with no end in sight. Officials say that because Ms.Zakarova's son died he cannot be registered as the father. Because the egg donor is thus treated as anonymous, Georgi, for the purposes of officials, also does not have a mother. Therefore, he does not officially exist and cannot have a birth certificate. Ms.Zakarova said:

'I have the feeling I am living in a Stalinist nightmare.'

With no birth certificate, officials say his grandmother has no claim to keep the boy. As she is too old to adopt him, they want to place him in an orphanage. She said:

' I have loved, I had a son. Then came that moment when my world was destroyed. I was left alone, but I decided to challenge my fate and thought when my grandson arrived that I had succeeded. "Gosha" is a perfect copy of my son. But now I face losing it all again.

'My son died when he was just 25. Russian doctors wrongly diagnosed the disease at first, and it was only later that we found the lump in his body was cancer. They originally gave him three months to live but I refused to give in, and flew him to a specialist clinic in Tel Aviv.

'I did not initially have enough money needed for the cancer treatment and sold everything I had to pay the bills. It gave him several more years of life but the cancer later re-appeared, this time as a tumour in his brain, and that was what killed him. He died in 2004.'

Ms.Zakarova added:

'My son had hoped to beat the cancer but had been worried that it might leave him infertile. That was why he had accepted the offer of having sperm stored in Israel.

'His death almost destroyed me, and I thought that perhaps it might have been easier to bear if I'd had a grandson — that's when I came up with the idea.

'I know that his girlfriend was pregnant, but the couple had decided to terminate the pregnancy when it was revealed the cancer had returned and he might not survive.

'I remembered this after his death and contacted the sperm bank and the fertility clinic, and they agreed to help, saying that medically it was all possible.'

Mr.Sergei Balezin, the chief embryologist from the 'Ekaterinburg Centre for Family Medicine' said:

'We are the first in the world to use a combination of four methods: post-human reproduction, transportation of living material from another country, conception in a test-tube and a successful surrogate maternity.

'This combination just would not have been permitted in "The West".

'We carried out the medical part and there was nothing to prevent us from doing that, but the patient has to sort out legal questions independently. We're not really sure how to act in this case as it is a first.'



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