A gay South African couple are believed to be the first same-sex couple to have triplets using a surrogate.
New parents Christo and Theo Menelaou from Pretoria have been featured in the UK media after they took home their children from the hospital following their complex birth last month.
Not only is having triplets using a surrogate very rare but, remarkably, the children also have DNA of both of the men.
That came about because each of the men’s sperm was used to fertilise one of two eggs, which were both implanted in the surrogate. Ten weeks into the pregnancy, one of the eggs split, resulting in three embryos, two of which were identical twins.
The couple were advised by most doctors to terminate the twins to avoid potentially dangerous compilations but with the help of a willing doctor at Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg they persevered.
The three children – Joshua and identical twins Zoe and Kate – were born premature but are now at home after three weeks in hospital; thanks to a team of 20 doctors, nurses and staff who oversaw the delivery. Zoe, however, has a heart defect that will require surgery within six months.
And, in a bizarre twist, the men have revealed that their family would not have been possible without the Oscar Pistorius trial.
The Menelaous live in the same complex where Pistorius murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013. They met the surrogate through a neighbour who was a state witness in the trial. (The couple explained that most of the neighbours only got to know each other as a result of the trial.)
“When you are gay, there is always the thought that it just may not be possible to be a parent no matter how much you would love to be,” Christo Menelaou told Sky News.
“It’s very hard to be accepted for adoption and we were told we would always come after heterosexual couples. And then we just never thought we’d ever find a person who would want to be surrogate to a gay couple,” he added.