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Assisted Reproduction

Dying Woman Needs Lung Transplant In Order To See Birth Of Twins Next Month Via Surrogacy

Surrogate Kim Graham (standing) is carrying the baby of her brother Shane O'Brien and sister-in-law Katherine Dixon (both left). Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

An Australian woman is in desperate need of a lung transplant so she can live long enough to see her twin babies being born next month. The pregnancy is being carried by her sister-in-law who is serving as her surrogate:

Katherine Dixon, one of the first Victorian women to enter into a surrogacy arrangement since laws changed in 2010, is gravely ill with cystic fibrosis at The Alfred hospital. Her sister-in-law Kim Graham is one month away from delivering her twins.

Ms Dixon’s partner Shane O’Brien told The Age yesterday her health had deteriorated in recent months because of an infection. She was taken to hospital on Saturday and had to be hooked up to a machine to oxygenate her blood in intensive care. Doctors initially said she had a couple of days to live, but now believe a lung transplant could save her life. ”A transplant is the only way,” said Mr O’Brien who is also Mrs Graham’s brother. ”They don’t know how long she’s got.”

Mr O’Brien said he wanted people to talk about organ donation so their families and friends know their wishes when they die. This would boost donation rates, he said, because people often hold back if they don’t know a person’s wishes. ”I want everyone to talk about this as much as possible.”

While Mrs Graham is booked to have a caesarean in five weeks at the Royal Women’s Hospital, she said she was considering bringing the date forward so their mother could hold her babies. Mr Dixon said if Katherine received a transplant, he hoped she could watch her babies being born on Skype from her hospital bed.

In February, The Age told the family’s surrogacy story, which has involved years of preparation and $50,000 in medical and legal expenses. They were one of the first families to enter a surrogacy arrangement after a change of law in Victoria in 2010 and are believed to be the first to have twins. The law change, which meant people did not have to be medically infertile to enter an arrangement, was particularly welcomed by Ms Dixon, 30, because her chronic lung disease meant she could not safely carry a pregnancy despite being fertile. At first, she and Mr O’Brien explored adoption, but were declined because of the seriousness of her illness.

Mr O’Brien, 40, said he desperately hoped his beloved could hold on to meet their twins. ”I just want her to hold them,” he said. Mr O’Brien said he was particularly grateful to staff at The Alfred hospital, who were doing everything they could for her. ”There are staff in there that are going far beyond what their job is. There are people coming in to do things for her on their days off. It’s overwhelming.”


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