It's Complicated: Mom Freezes Her Eggs So Daughter Can Create Future Family

Filed under: In The News, Infertility

Penny Jarvis and Mackenzie Stephens picture

Penny Jarvis is freezing her eggs for her daughter, Mackenzie, to use. Credit: Caters News/310pix.com

Granny or Mom?

That's a question that may be asked in the case of an English woman who is freezing her eggs so that, when her 2-year-old daughter grows up, she can have kids of her own.

Translation: If, one day, the girl chooses, she could give birth to her own half-sibling. The future baby's father? He would be fertilizing his mother-in-law's egg. And the baby's aunts and uncles? They'd be half-brothers and sisters, too.

Welcome to the complicated world of fertility science.

Mackenzie Stephens, 2, was born without ovaries, but her mom, Penny Jarvis, 25, plans to donate her own eggs to help her daughter have children of her own, London's Daily Mail reports.

Mackenzie was born with Turner Syndrome, a potentially devastating chromosomal abnormality affecting about one in every 2,000 female births, that, in addition to ovarian failure, can cause neck, skin and heart abnormalities, along with mild hearing loss, according to the Turner Syndrome Society of the United States website.

Mackenzie, who needs a daily growth hormone, suffers severe mood swings and sees a psychologist. She is partially deaf and uses sign language, the Daily Mail reports.

Jarvis, of Sheffield, England, is "mum" to four other young kids, as well: Morgan, 6, twins William and Abigail, 3, and 5-month-old Jaymie-Leigh. She and her partner, Karl Stephens, 42, care for the children, according to the newspaper.

Jarvis tells the Daily Mail she will do anything to give her daughter the chance to have kids of her own one day.

"You could look at it as her giving birth to her own brother or sister, but I choose not to see it like that," she tells the Daily Mail. "You do the best for your children and Mackenzie's daughter or son would be her own. "

This is not the first case of a mother trying to ensure the chances of her child having a family.

In an unrelated story, in 2007, a Montreal mom froze her eggs so they could be used by her then 7-year-old daughter who could not have children because of a genetic condition, according to Reuters. If the girl chooses to become pregnant using her mother's eggs, she will be giving birth to her biological half-sister.

Jarvis says she hopes her other three daughters will donate eggs for their sister, as well.

"It's a comfort to know that if she did have a child they would still have part of her own genetic make-up as well, so it would still be a part of her," Jarvis tells the Daily Mail. "Hopefully, it won't just be me doing it. I'd like to think her three sisters would offer their eggs, too. But if they didn't, at least the option would be there for her."

But medical ethicists warn that Mackenzie's potential children could face psychological problems stemming from their relationships with their mother, who will also be their sister, and with their grandmother, who will also be their biological mother.

"It is important that account has been taken of the welfare of any child who may be born as a result of the treatment and of any other child who may be affected by the birth," a spokesman for the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority tells the Daily Mail.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.