A 29-year-old woman has given birth to her own ‘cousin’ after agreeing to help in her aunt’s 15-year fertility fight. Emma Vaughan, 29, donated her eggs to her 42-year-old aunt Sandra Barlow and uncle Chris and acted as a surrogate for the birth. Miss Vaughan has now given birth to a baby girl called Maia, who is her biological daughter but her cousin by law after Mrs Barlow applied for a parental order.
It brings Mr and Mrs Barlow’s 15-year battle to conceive to an end. Their hopes of having a baby naturally were dashed early on when doctors told Mrs Barlow that her fallopian tubes had fused shut and had to be removed.
She was sent for a dye test, where dye is injected into the cervix and uterus to check the fallopian tubes. It showed they were completely blocked and she was operated on immediately. After she recovered, she and her husband, 50, decided to try IVF. In total they spent £40,000 on seven cycles over five years, with Mrs Barlow suffering two miscarriages.
Then in 2008 the couple from Maidstone, Kent, made the decision to seek help from someone in their family, namely their niece Emma. Mrs Barlow said: ‘Surrogacy seemed like our only hope. I did some research and looked at a surrogacy agency website. ‘I was in awe that people did these amazing things for complete strangers but I wanted to do it within the family. I started to think who in the family could help us. I’m not sure what made me think of Emma.’ Emma is the daughter of Mrs Barlow’s brother Jim but they lost touch when Emma’s parents split up and she moved away to live with her mother. They were reunited 11 years ago after meeting at Jim’s funeral and have stayed in regular contact since.
Mrs Barlow said she spent months agonising over whether she should ask her niece before mentioning it to her husband. She said: ‘I could tell he was shocked but he said: “We’ve got nothing to lose”. When I rang Emma she instantly said yes. I told her to take some time to think about it but she never hesitated.’
Shortly afterwards, Mrs Barlow joined a surrogacy agency for advice about what would be involved. The couple signed a surrogacy agreement with Emma, although these agreements are not legally binding. ‘Sandra and Chris never put me under pressure. It was my choice, I knew I could do it’
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