JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A 48-year-old grandmother acting as surrogate mother for her daughter gave birth Thursday to test-tube triplets, becoming the world's first surrogate mother of her own grandchildren.
Pat Anthony and the triplets, two boys and a girl, were reported doing well after the early morning deliveries by Caesarean section at Johannesburg's Park Lane Clinic. Doctors were reported optimistic that all three would survive.
Sources at the private clinic said the triplets were two weeks premature and were placed under special care in a neonatal unit. One of the boys weighed 5 pounds 1 ounce and the other 4 pounds 10 ounces, while the girl, delivered last, weighed 2 pounds 13 ounces. A hospital source said the girl was placed in an incubator.
The clinic declined to disclose further details of the highly publicized case. The family sold exclusive rights to the story--South Africa's first surrogate birth--to The Mail on Sunday newspaper of London.
Anthony agreed to bear the children of her daughter, Karen Ferreira-Jorge, 25, an aerobics instructor, whose uterus was removed after complications from the birth of her first child, a son, three years ago.
Anthony was implanted with three ova taken from her daughter and fertilized in a laboratory procedure by sperm from Ferreira-Jorge's Portuguese-born husband, George, an air-conditioning engineer who fled Angola after its independence from Portuguese colonial rule in 1975.
Doctors said it was usual to implant three ova in the hope that one would survive but unheard of that all three should develop.
Lawyers said the children legally are Ferreira-Jorge's brothers and sister until she and her husband adopt them as their children.
Reporters from the Mail on Sunday, which paid a six-figure sum for exclusive rights to the story, guarded the clinic and the operating room to keep other reporters from getting any information about the delivery, the babies or the family.
Ferreira-Jorge stood near her mother during the hourlong delivery that began about 5 a.m. Thursday, a matron told waiting reporters after serving them celebratory champagne. George Ferreira-Jorge and Anthony's husband, Raymond, also watched the delivery, she said.
The family's Roman Catholic parish priest in Tzaneen, 230 miles northeast of Johannesburg, said his congregation "thanked God this morning for the gift of these children into our parish."
Father Sean Laffan said the Vatican has spoken out against surrogacy but that Pope John Paul II "did not give any guidelines on issues like baptism."
"If I am asked to baptize them (the babies), I will do so very happily--I don't see any problem with that," Laffan said.