Surrogate twins paid for by National Health

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The Independent Online
An infertile couple have had surrogate twins following treatment paid for by the NHS, according to a newspaper report.

The babies, named by the Daily Mirror as Jack and Damon Wells, will be two on Thursday and are thought to be the only surrogate children whose conception and birth was paid for by the health service.

The twins' mother, Tracey, 32, and father, Colin, 38, had been trying to have children for more than 12 years when York District Health Authority - now the North Yorkshire Health Authority - agreed to cover the cost of implanting Mrs Wells' fertilised eggs into her best friend, named only as Marie. According to the report, the treatment cost pounds 5,000, although no money was paid to the surrogate mother, in line with a legal ban on such payments.

Last night, the Department of Health said there was no national policy on paying for such treatment but it is thought the case may lead to a rush of applications from other couples.

Mrs Wells had already undergone IVF (test-tube fertilisation) treatment without success when doctors discovered that she had a rare disorder in her womb that could result in her and her unborn baby dying in the event of conception.

"I had produced 19 eggs, half of which had been successfully fertilised but the scan showed it was too dangerous to implant them into my womb," said Mrs Wells. Doctors advised her to have a hysterectomy but then her friend agreed to be the twins' surrogate mother.

The ethics committee of St James's Hospital in Leeds took 18 months to agree to the attempt and the boys were born in April 1994. The treatment was relatively cheap - pounds 1,200 for the initial IVF treatment and pounds 1,400 for each of the attempts to implant the fertilised eggs into Marie. A further pounds 1,000 was spent on drugs for Mrs Wells and the surrogate mother.

A Health Department spokeswoman said last night that it was for local health authorities to decide whether or not to pay for the service within their catchment areas.