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June 29, 2017

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US grandmother gives birth to her own grandchild

CHICAGO -- Emily and Mike Jordan couldn't help but feel anxious.

More than two years before, at age 29, Emily had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. But just before she was to undergo a radical hysterectomy, she was told that she was pregnant. Faced with saving her life or their unborn child's, the young couple made the excruciating decision to go forward with her surgery. It meant losing the baby and forfeiting any chance at having children.

Or so they thought.

"I can't describe what that was like after finding out you have cancer, after finding out your chance of ever carrying a baby is gone," Emily says.

But now, more than two years later, she and Mike had come to a Chicago hospital to realize the dream they thought was lost — to become parents, though not the way they had imagined.

Alongside them was Emily's mother, Cindy Reutzel — a fit, silver-haired 53-year-old grandmother with a pregnant belly.

Reutzel was about to give birth to her own grandchild.

In-vitro Baby Boom

Just 34 years ago, Louise Brown, the first "test tube" baby, was born in Great Britain. The result? A veritable in-vitro baby boom.

It started with would-be mothers in their 20s and 30s. "Then people started pushing the envelope," says Dr. Helen Kim, director of the in vitro fertilization program at the University of Chicago. "If you could help a menopausal woman in her 30s, could you help a menopausal woman in her 40s? And then it became, 'Can you help a menopausal woman in her 50s?'

"And the answer is yes."

Some older women were having their own babies. But more often, they were using egg donors to have their own children, or serving as surrogates or "gestational carriers."

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