Even if a Mother Could Forget Her Child, She Still Has their DNA

This week, as we prepare for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we meditate on her motherhood and, in a special way, her role in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of her Son.

By: Sr. Clare Hunter, F.S.E.

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Have you ever heard of microchimerism? It turns out that Saint Paul was not merely using a metaphor when he said:

“We, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another” (Romans 12:5).

Scientifically defined, microchimerism “refers to the harboring of a small number of cells or DNA from a genetically different individual.”[1] In layman’s terms, we are our mother, brother and sister. Okay, maybe not literally. But this research is fascinating. The DNA cells of another unique human being are coursing through our body. In fact, depending on birth order, or how many pregnancies a woman has had, the DNA of many other human beings.

As Pope Francis implores us to love, reverence and protect the ecosystem of God’s creation in Laudato Si’, how much more so the human “ecosystem.” Dr. J. Lee Nelson reminds us:

“Knowing cells are in the brain brings home the idea that we’re a little more diverse than we thought we were. So conceptually, it may be more appropriate to think of ourselves as an ecosystem rather than a single genetic template.”[2]

Research continues to confound and excite scientists as they have discovered that the placenta does not block the exchange of DNA from the mother to child as previously assumed. In fact, the opposite occurs.  Studies have found “the persistence of fetal cells in the mother after birth without any apparent rejection. Fetal microchimeric cells (FMCs) engraft into the maternal bone marrow for decades after delivery and are able to migrate to blood and tissues.”[3] Though ongoing, the studies seem to indicate that there are more health benefits, than negative effects, from the trafficking of the cells as one researcher so poignantly states:

“It is fascinating to realize that after the mother spends nine months providing nutrients and an environment for optimal growth and development of the baby, the baby gives back cells with regenerative potential to the mother.” [4]

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Maybe even more interesting is that researchers are finding the fetal cells of each pregnancy are not only contained in the body of the mother, but in the siblings of the subsequent pregnancies. As the eldest of six children, my sister and four brothers have my unique DNA fetal cells in their bodies.

This might further explain the unique bond between a mother and each of the children she conceives, whether or not carried to full term. The child conceived is not merely on her mind and the love of her heart, but literally, his cells are in her brain and heart tissue. It makes sense that if his body is in danger, her body would react. This makes sense of the suffering women know for many years, or a lifetime, following a miscarriage, still-born, death of a child, as well as those who chose abortion.[5] Providentially, as I wrote this blog post, an email arrived announcing the 6th undercover video exposing the horrors of Planned Parenthood (Click here to view the video. Viewer discretion advised.)  Across my screen came the words “And the mothers don’t know!” stated by Holly O’Donnell, Ex-Procurement Technician for StemExpress, LLC , and I immediately began to pray for those women. I wonder how much pain they live with each day, in mind and body, because of these videos; what we all live with as a nation realizing just how oblivious we have been regarding the power and atrocities of the abortion industry. Yes, prayer, fasting and action is needed, and more, the reminder of hope in a loving and merciful God. The post-abortion healing ministry, Project Rachel is always available, 24/7, to receive the calls of parents, grandparents and siblings of those whose lives were lost through abortion. For more information, contact Project Rachel at (888) 456-HOPE or visit helpafterabortion.org.

On Saturday, August 15 we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose body was taken into heaven where she reigns with her Son, Jesus Christ. Mary’s body, the body of a mother coursing with the DNA cells of her Son, who is God in the Second Person, can be no other place. This holy body cannot undergo decay! (Ps 16:10) This science is not merely interesting for the sake of science, health or family life, but confirms what the Catholic Church has intuited and taught for years – that the Mother of God must have:

“…finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages.”[6]

As we are baptized into the Body of Christ, becoming sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father, we are also her children. May we trust that we are part of her, incorporated into her body and soul in heaven as we strive to be a holy member of the Body of Christ. Mary, Mother and Queen of Heaven and Earth, pray for us.

[1] http://www.microchimerism.org/what-microchimerism-does.html

[2] J. Lee Nelson http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/32678/title/Swapping-DNA-in-the-Womb/

[3] NCBI, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21178998

[4] http://circres.ahajournals.org/content/110/1/3.full

[5] “Post-abortion and the incidence of fetal microchimerismhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894651/

[6] Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS: Defining the Dogma of the Assumption. November 1, 1950, no. 40.

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