A couple unable to have children are finally the proud parents of a baby girl – after using eggs donated from one sister and the surrogate womb of another.
Primary school teacher Katy Slade, 31, longed to start a family with husband David but was prevented by a rare genetic condition which left her without reproductive organs.
Her big-hearted younger sister Lucy Marks, 27, came to her aid by keeping a childhood promise to donate her eggs which were then fertilised by David.
David’s older sister Jamie Allan, 35, then stepped forward and offered to be their surrogate mum.
Katy and David’s dream has now come true and they are mum and dad to baby Beatrix.
Overjoyed Katy, 31, said: “If it wasn’t for our sisters we would still be childless. It’s the best gift ever and we love them so much for it.
“I always knew I wanted to be a mother – it was just a question of how.
“Lucy actually lives with us and is very close to Beatrix – although she doesn’t feel emotionally bonded to her like a mother would.
“Beatrix is very much our own – our own little miracle.”
David, 33, a tattoo artist, added: “We still can’t believe we are parents, we feel like the luckiest couple alive.
“Beatrix is our little angel and we’ll be forever thankful to our sisters for making our dream come true.
“Without them things would have been so much harder.”
Katy knew she would never be able to have a baby since her own childhood when her periods failed to start.
She tearfully told sister Lucy she didn’t feel like a real woman – and Lucy promised her she would donate her eggs when the time came.
Katy met David in 2003 and were together for six years before they started to seriously talk about starting a family.
When she told him about her condition he suggested adoption or surrogacy and in 2010 they started planning IVF.
Katy asked Lucy if she was still serious about donating her eggs and was delighted when she told her she would keep her lifelong promise.
But she was not willing to carry the baby because she had a boyfriend and it would make if feel like she was pregnant with their own child.
Katy added: “I cried when Lucy said she would still donate her eggs for me.
“It meant that genetically the baby would be linked to both me and David.
“But we knew she wouldn’t be a surrogate too because the baby would feel too much like hers if she carried it.
“She also had a boyfriend and no children of her own and it would have been hard for her to have her first pregnancy and then hand the baby to me.”
Katy and David started exploring the possibility of finding a surrogate stranger – but were put off by stories of some who dropped out or became too attached to the baby.
David was chatting about their problem with older sister Jamie over dinner one night when she casually told him: “I’ll be the surrogate.”
Married Jamie said that, after having three children of her own, her family was complete and she would love to help them.
Katy and David, of Romford, Essex were not eligible for free IVF treatment on the NHS and used money inherited from Katy’s nan Eileen to fund the #8,000 private cost.
They underwent a series of interviews, counselling and various blood tests before they were accepted.
David’s sperm was frozen – but they then had to wait another six months while it was routinely screened for STDs and any other medical conditions.
Meanwhile, Lucy had daily hormone injections to produce more eggs and Jamie underwent hormone injections to build the lining of her womb.
Just two embryos were created when David’s sperm was mixed with Lucy’s eggs and they were implanted into Jamie’s womb in December 2011.
On Christmas Eve Jamie told Katy she was being sick and tests confirmed the best possible present they could have – the news that she was pregnant.
At five months Katy and David found they were expecting a girl and they decided to call her Beatrix – the middle name of the nan whose bequest financed their treatment.
Jamie was induced on September 1st last year and tearful Katy said: “I held her for the first time and looked at Lucy, Jamie and David.
“It was incredible that every single one of us had helped bring Beatrix into the world.”
Lucy said: “I was really glad to be able to help and when we found the treatment had worked first time I was over the moon.
“I just adore Beatrix – she’s absolutely wonderful.
“But although my eggs were used to create her, she will always be my niece.”
Jamie, who runs an after-school club, added: “Carrying the baby was something I was happy to do for them.
“The pregnancy was normal just like my others and the delivery was straightforward and my mum, Katy and David were in the room.
“Obviously I knew from the start that she wasn’t mine and I focussed on that and I will always see her as my niece.”