Woman, 53, to give birth to granddaughter

August 29, 2012 3:09:29 PM PDT
When Emily Jordan of Naperville was diagnosed with cervical cancer, she thought that would end her chances of having a baby.

"We realized that I was going to have to have a radical hysterectomy. That sort of put an end to the dream we had of being parents and having a baby," Jordan said.

Doctors at University of Chicago Medicine were able to save her ovaries.

"So she could harvest eggs, freeze her embryos and have a surrogate carrier," Dr. Diane Yamada, gynecologic oncologist at U of C Medicine, said.

That meant Jordan and her husband could still have a biological child with the help of invitrofertilization. But the baby would have to be carried in someone else's womb, a surrogate.

Jordan's 53-year-old mother Cindy Reutzel then made a surprising offer. She wanted to be the one to carry the couple's baby. She knew it might be a long shot.

"I worried about the physical ramifications of being pregnant at this age because I had no idea what to expect," Reutzel said.

Hormones can be manipulated so a woman's body can take on a pregnancy later in life, according to doctors at the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Fertility If the woman is healthy enough and the uterus is in good condition, it's a realistic option.

"Most women in their 50s are not going to be healthy enough. It was a really wonderful and unique situation that Emily's mom was in good health and her uterus was still great," Dr. Helen Kim, reproductive endocrinologist, U of C Medicine, said.

"Physically I had no major issues. So I feel like my body is adjusting well to it. I'm just carrying at this point. I'm just hauling this baby around for nine months and that's what my role is," Reutzel said.

There was some initial concern about the reaction people might have about their unconventional decision, but the family says so far it's been quite positive. Reutzel remains very clear about her role as grandma.

"The end result is that two wonderful people are going to get to raise their baby. Their baby."

The Jordans' baby girl is expected to be delivered on Thursday via C-Section at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. And Jordan is now cancer-free.

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