Kristin Marguerite Collier is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School where she practices general Internal Medicine. She serves as an Associate Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program and is the Director of the Program’s Primary Care Track. In addition, she is the Director of the University of Michigan Medical School Program on Health, Spirituality and Religion. She spoke to Charles Camosy about Mary, Jesus, and pregnancy.
Kristin Marguerite Collier M.D said in an interview, “As many of your readers may know, the placenta is the organ through which the mother and prenatal child interface. The placenta is an organ that is attached to the inside of the uterus and connects to the prenatal child through the child’s umbilical cord.
What is not as well known about this organ is that the placenta is the only organ in human biology that is made by two persons, together, in cooperation. The placenta is ‘built’ from tissue that is part from mom, and part from the growing baby. Because of this, the placenta is referred to as a ‘fetomaternal’ organ. It is the only organ made by two people, in cooperation with providence. It is the first time mom and her baby come together, albeit at the cellular level, to do some-thing in cooperation.”
“In addition to the placenta, mother and prenatal child interact at a cellular level in something known as ‘fetomaternal-microchimerism.’ In Greek Mythology, the chimera is a fire breathing monster comprised of three species in one – a lion’s head, a goat’s body and a serpent’s tail. In science, “microchimerism” is the presence of a small population of genetically distinct and separately derived cells within an individual. During pregnancy, small numbers of cells traffic across the placenta. Some of the prenatal child’s cells cross into the mother, and some cells from the mother cross into the prenatal child. The cells from the prenatal child are pluripotent and integrate into tissues in her mother’s body and start functioning like the cells around them. This integration is known as ‘fetomaternal microchimerism’.
The presence of these cells is amazing for several reasons. One is that these cells have been found in various maternal organs and tissues such as the brain, the breast, the thyroid and the skin. These are all organs which in some way are important for the health of both the baby and her mother in relationship. The post-partum phase is when there is need, for example, for lactation. The fetomaternal microchimeric cells have been shown to be important in signalling lactation.”
“I know that most women experience an immense sense of wonder and awe during their pregnancy that sometimes isn’t celebrated and discussed perhaps as much as it should be.”
“ If we consider the biological reality of fetomaternal microchimerism, we can assume that some of Jesus’ cells transferred across the placenta in Mary’s womb into the Blessed Mother. What we could take from this is that even when Jesus physically left his mother, part of him remained in her and remains in her forever. This further magnifies her position as the glorious Theotokas.