In vitro fertilization was developed well over thirty years ago, but its far reaching potential for helping couples with fertility issues has yet to be fully explored. The most recent reminder of this arrived on September 5, 2012 when a baby girl named Elle Cynthia was brought into this world via cesarean. But unlike most deliveries, it wasn't mom giving birth, but rather grandma.
As Martha Irvine reports in the Huffington Post, a 53 year-old woman from Chicago recently gave birth to her daughter's baby. The new biological mom, 29 year-old Emily, had a hysterectomy two years ago after being diagnosed with cervical cancer, and assumed she would never be able to have children.
But then her mother, Cindy Reutzel, became inspired after hearing about a number of 40 and 50 year-old women who were successfully able to carry a child to full-term after in vitro transplantation — including a 51 year-old grandmother from Brazil who gave birth to her own twin grandchildren in 2007. Irvine writes:
"What if I carried your baby for you?" she asked.
Emily and Mike didn't take it too seriously at first. "We didn't really think that was a realistic option," says Emily, who works in hospital administration.
It turned out, though, that it wasn't really that far-fetched after all, particularly for a young grandmother who's in good health, like Reutzel.
After a process that included psychological evaluation and hormonal manipulation to prepare their bodies, Kim eventually implanted Reutzel's uterus with an embryo created with an egg from Emily and Mike's sperm.
It was no easy process, with a regimen of hormonal shots. Work schedules were interrupted and vacations postponed. But Reutzel was committed.
"The thought of Emily and Mike not being able to have children and share that piece of their lives with someone just broke my heart," says Reutzel, who lives in Chicago and is executive director at medical foundation. "I want Emily to have that connection with another human being like I had with her."
As her belly grew, people started asking about "her baby." But she was quick to tell them the story. This was not her baby; she was Grandma.
The baby was born without complications; grandmother and grandchild are doing well. And in fact, Reutzel has already suggested that she'd be willing to do it all over again.
[Via Huffington Post]
All images via AP.