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Thursday, March 26, 2015

The gift of life: Sister donates egg and surrogate gives birth

Kate Dobb has been given the gift of two beautiful twin babies – thanks to a donated egg from her sister and a surrogate mother.

It is a happy ending to a story that started when she fell seriously ill with cancer at the age of just 10.

Kate, 37, was told she would not be able to have children because of the severity of her treatment for a rare sarcoma.

Now she has her husband Nisar Afsar are busy caring for their one-year old twins, Rafi and Amina.

They today spoke of the emotional journey that has enabled them to be parents.

The story starts when Kate, originally from Church Stretton but now living in Cheshire, fell ill as a child.

While being treated at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital’s children’s ward she underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

As Kate says, at the time there was only one thought, she said: “The aim was survival.”

It was not long after that Kate was told she would not be able to have children, something that began hit home as she got older. It was then only in her 20s that she began to consider surrogacy as an option for starting a family.

She said: “I found out when I was 13 that I could not have children and it was not until I was in my 20s that I met a doctor at a different clinic who suggested the idea of surrogacy and egg donation.

“I always wanted to have children and I was very upset, but I felt my options were very limited. I didn’t realise how realistic egg donation surrogacy was.”

The first step on the road was when Kate’s younger sister, Jennie, 35, from Shrewsbury, offered to donate her eggs.

She explained that she had been more than happy to help her sister fulfil her dream of having children.

She said: “It is a nice thing to do but I do not see why I wouldn’t do it. I am quite pragmatic and my sister wanted a baby so why would I not want to help her?”

The next step was finding a woman who would be willing to act as a surrogate, and that is where Mikki Senior, 40, from Bomere Heath, comes in.

Kate and Nisar had joined a group called Surrogacy UK, where they met Mikki, who has three children of her own and had acted as a surrogate before, and her husband Dominic.

Kate said the organisation worked perfectly for them because it is based on friendship between the families, and forming a bond before embarking on the surrogacy process.

She said: “We joined and really liked the feeling of the organisation because it was based on friendship first - you build up a really strong relationship with the surrogate before you begin treatment.

“We wanted to be open with our children and for them to have a relationship with their surrogate.”

It just so happened that Mikki and Kate both had Shropshire in common, and it proved the basis for a friendship that would result in her agreeing to carry her children.

Kate said: “Through the organisation we were at an event and met Mikki, who was from Bomere Heath. We had the Shropshire link in common, got chatting about all things Shropshire and really hit it off. It turned out we would have been friends anyway. It took about three months to get to know each other really well before embarking on the treatment and she was pregnant first time with twins.”

All four parents were present for the birth and then stayed in the same room afterwards, so Mikki and her husband shared Kate and Nisar’s first moments with their children.

It’s the most obvious question, but when talking about giving birth and handing over Kate and Nisar’s children, Mikki said: “I was absolutely elated and it was like if you can imagine giving someone the best present they have ever had for Christmas, how wonderful is that? To see their faces holding their babies.

“It is a physical struggle but every one was absolutely worthwhile for that moment, let alone everything that has happened since. It is pretty special.”

Kate said that Mikki and her sister had given her the best gift possible.

She said: “We can’t ever thank her or my sister enough. Mikki says she is so happy to have her own children and she loves being a mum and her reason for being a surrogate was that she would be heartbroken if she could not have children herself.

“She is incredible. Such an amazing, strong person. We could not have wished for anyone better to carry our baby. It is absolutely incredible that someone would go through that for us.”

She added: “I pinch myself every day, I cannot believe it. It is a dream come true. I never expected to be a mum and to become a mum two two babies is absolutely fantastic. It is an incredible gift.

Mikki said she had decided to become a surrogate after witnessing the heartbreaking situation facing people who cannot have children.

She said: “I am so very lucky that I have my children and I feel really really lucky I have them. Both me and my husband are chiropractors and we have come across people who have had fertility problems and we know how heart wrenching it can be.”

Mikki also said she was proud of her family, and herself for being able to bring such joy to other people.

She said: “I am immensely proud, not only of what my family has helped me do, but what my body can do. I have had six children and I am proud we have been able to do something for them, because in the world of giving it does not much bigger than a child. I really feel like I have done something worthwhile with my life. Not only do I have my family but I have helped two other families have children too.”

She added: “It’s a huge thing to watch you wife carry someone else’s child.

“My husband is pretty special. He has been a big part of this but at Surrogacy UK they encourage partners to get involved. They have special surrogacy partner sessions to discuss what it can bring up and that is important.”

The two families are now firm friends, speak regularly on the telephone, and even go camping together.

Kate said: “The fantastic thing is we have built up such a great friendship with Mikki and her family that we have been camping together and we see each other every few weeks.”

Mikki added: “We fell in love with them. They are such lovely people.”

Both Kate and Mikki encouraged people interested in surrogacy to consider Surrogacy UK and to look around and explore the options.

Mikki said: “Look at different organisations and look at what you want out of this. Do you want to stay in touch? If you think they are coming for money then walk away, it is not about money. It is pretty much an altruistic thing you have in your mind that you want to do.

“It is it just about you , it is about your extended family, both partners, because it is a lot to go through. Think it through.”


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