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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Couple who have tragically lost SIX babies now hope a surrogate mother can help them start a family

  • Jina McPhee, 28, has miscarried twins and had two stillbirths in last decade
  • She and husband Tam, 31, have also seen two of their kids die very young
  • After 6th child was stillborn, doctors found Mrs McPhee has rare condition
  • It means she will never be able to carry a baby for full term of pregnancy

A couple who have lost six babies are hoping a surrogate mother can help them start a family.

Jina McPhee, 28, miscarried twins, had two stillbirths, lost a daughter at just 13 days old and another little girl aged three - all within eight years.

It was only after the stillborn birth of her sixth child, Murray, that doctors discovered she has a rare condition that means she will never be able to carry a baby to full term.

Medics suggested surrogacy would be the best option for Jina and husband Tam, 31, but it's only now - three years on - that they feel able to take the next step.

'We're desperate to have a family,' said Jina, from Livingston, West Lothian.

'I would give anything to be a mum again and Tam is such a good dad. This is something we both want so much.'

The couple went to the same primary school but it was only when they were teenagers they got to know each other through Tam's sister.

They got together when Jina was 16 and she fell pregnant a year later.

'I had severe sickness all the way through my pregnancy but I felt I wasn't taken seriously when I went to the doctor because I was so young. It was hard.

'When Krystal was stillborn the doctors said it was nature, just one of those things. I was devastated but it was good news to know there was nothing wrong for any future pregnancies.'

Just a couple of months later, Jina fell pregnant again, this time with twins.

But again she became ill, losing lots of weight and experiencing bad sickness.

She lost them at 12 weeks.

'That was a horrible experience. I was rushed to the hospital,' Jina recalled.

'My experience was very much like the recent Eastenders miscarriage storyline. Friends and family texted me to tell me not to watch it, but I'm just glad the issue was put out there for people to learn about.'

For the next year, Jina and Tam grieved and tried to get their lives back together.

In 2006, she became pregnant a third time.

'I was really sick but I was told I was just one of those people who got ill during pregnancy. Then I had to give birth 26 weeks early by emergency caesarean.'

Karmelle weighed only 410 grams and the doctor told the shattered parents not to expect much.

'We were heartbroken but she seemed intent on defying doctors' predictions and fought so hard,' Jina smiled.

'After four months we were told she was severely brain damaged and life expectancy was short.

'We were allowed to take her home two months later. Doctors couldn't believe she was still alive, it went against everything medical books suggested.
'I was so proud of her and she was just the best.

'But I always worried it would be the last time she would do this or that - a last birthday or last Christmas - but her wee personality kept us going.'

Karmelle died in November 2009.

'She gave us so much.

'She really taught us about disabilities and after she passed away we both decided we wanted to work with disabled people, so I went to college to study learning disability nursing and Tam started working with Enable.'

Around a year after Karmelle's passing, Jina became pregnant with Ruby.

'I still felt a need to be a mum,' she continued.

'I wasn't half as ill this time and was receiving closer attention from the hospital. But then I couldn't feel her moving and I was rushed in for another emergency caesarean at 27 weeks.

'We were so happy to be told she didn't have brain damage but then she had an episode and her bowel burst, which turned to septicaemia. She died two days later.

'I felt like I was dreaming. It just didn't seem possible that it could be happening again.'

Doctors did tests on Jina and said if she fell pregnant in the future they would put her on a high dose of steroids and the baby should be OK.
'But then they stopped the steroids at 20 weeks and I had this terrible feeling.

'Three weeks later, Murray was still born.

'The doctors insisted they wanted to do a post-mortem but Tam and I couldn't have it on our conscience. Murray was so tiny and I couldn't do that to him. I asked them to do tests on the placenta instead and it was then they discovered I had the rare condition.

'They contacted London and America looking for a specialist with a treatment plan but couldn't find anyone.

'What they did know was that the condition, which I don't even know the name of, gets worse with every pregnancy and they said future pregnancies wouldn't be viable.

'My eggs are fine but my body fights against being pregnant, so they recommended a surrogacy.

'By this point, I felt like I couldn't watch my parents and brother and Tam's family grieve anymore. They went through each death with us, so I had already decided I didn't want to try again before the doctor delivered the news.

'With every pregnancy there was hope. Everyone around us would say it would be all right this time and we were always positive.

'But it never worked out like that.

'In hindsight it would have been good to find out after the first pregnancy but then we would never have had Karmelle and she brought so much to our lives.

'I even have her to thank for my career - I start my new job at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital at the end of the month.'

It's taken a while for Jina and Tam to feel comfortable about going down the surrogacy route, but they finally feel ready to make that step.

'There's no rule book written on how to rent someone's womb and it just feels really weird asking someone to carry my baby,' Jina admitted.

'My mum and her friend and people on Tam's side offered, but I checked with fertility experts and there are standard requirements which usually include things like age or weight.

'There's an organisation called Surrogacy UK, who can match us with a surrogate, but first we want to raise money to pay the expenses.'

Surrogates cannot be paid in Britain but expenses can be covered ranging from £8,000 to £15,000.

'We set up a fundraising page more in hope than anything else but the response has been unbelievable,' she added.

'We've had more than £5,000 in just a couple of months, including an anonymous donation of £2,000. It's hard to believe that perfect strangers could be so kind.'

Jina and Tam could be close to having the family they long for - and no price can be put on that dream finally coming true.


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