The Star (Jamaica)

More Jamaicans ‘RENTING WOMBS’

- SHANEL LEMMIE STAR Writer

Jamaicans have joined the global trend of renting a womb from a surrogate mother, who carries the pregnancy but gives up the child shortly after it is born.

Dr Vernon DaCosta, reproducti­ve specialist and director of the Hugh Winter Fertility Management Unit at The University of the West Indies, Mona says, in recent years, the demand for surrogacy has been increasing.

DaCosta, who operates Gynae 360 Fertility & Laparoscop­y Centre, a fertility and laparoscop­y centre in Jamaica, said that it is not uncommon for persons to enquire about getting surrogates to carry their babies.

“Patients will come in and ask for surrogates, and we do know of a couple women who provide that kind of service,” he told THE WEEKEND STAR.

“But, in the majority of cases, they would come with somebody who wants to be a surrogate for them. Then it’s our job to make sure that that individual is an ideal surrogate, and that means they are physically and mentally well to deal with surrogacy.”

DaCosta says women who have passed their childbeari­ng years are not the only ones embracing surrogacy.

“Definitely, the younger women now don’t seem to have a problem with surrogacy. Because of the increase in the LGBTQ population here, we’re seeing more surrogacy being performed,” he told THE WEEKEND STAR. Though ‘ renting a womb’ may have had negative connotatio­ns in the past,

DaCosta says people are now very sympatheti­c to the plights of women who struggle to conceive.

“I think people are very sympatheti­c to women who need surrogacy. I know, because of certain religious beliefs, they think that those individual­s should go and adopt, but I think, in general, most people are sympatheti­c to people who need surrogacy.”

According to a 2016 study of Trends and Outcomes of Gestationa­l Surrogacy in the United States, between 1999 and 2013, 18,4000 infants were birthed through gestationa­l surrogate pregnancie­s. While he has facilitate­d surrogate pregnancie­s in Jamaica, DaCosta said there are no clear figures depicting the number of babies birthed from those pregnancie­s.

Several companies in the United States and other developed countries have created platforms that allow women to offer their wombs for rent as surrogate mothers. One of these websites has a listing of 163 Jamaican women offering their services as surrogate mothers. The profile of one of the women, Shadena, said that she wanted to become a surrogate mother “because I want to help individual­s to build their family and share the life they have”.

The 26-year-old woman said that she is willing to help heterosexu­al, gay, and lesbian couples as well as single women and men.

Shannon, a mother in St Andrew, said she wants to be a surrogate mother because “I know there are a lot of people out there that want to have kids and can’t, and I would like to help them by giving them a child of their own”.

It is unclear if any of the Jamaicans who have advertised their services have been engaged as surrogates.

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