Birmingham couple defy cancer to have baby after best friend acts as surrogate

Emma Smuts-Muller (R) told ITV News Central she was shocked when Laura Donohoe (L) offered to be a surrogate

When Emma Smuts-Muller from Birmingham was diagnosed with breast cancer and undertook chemotherapy, her fertility was severely affected.

For a time, the 39-year-old's hopes of having a family with husband Thomas were shattered - until best friend Laura Donohoe stepped in and offered to be a surrogate for the couple.

Even then, due to the cancer treatment and a previous miscarriage, the couple were warned that there was only a 20% chance of a pregnancy with a surrogate.

But now they're the proud parents of a healthy baby girl - Ella.

"I just said 'Well, I'll try for you, if you like'," said Laura.

"And they both went 'what?' and I went 'Go on, we'll give it a go - if it works it works - we'll try it. That was it, and I thought what do I have to lose? Obviously they've got everything to gain, she's my best friend, I can do it."

"I couldn't quite believe that she'd said it," said Emma. "When she left I said to my husband, 'do you think she really meant that?'"

What is surrogacy?

Surrogacy is when one person carries a baby for a couple, or a parent, who are unable to carry it themselves.

There are two types of surrogacy - but in Emma and Thomas's case, it was 'host surrogacy', where IVF treatment is used to place an embryo unrelated to the surrogate inside the womb of the surrogate mother.

Given the slim, 20% chance, Emma and husband Thomas, 43, "prepared for the worst". But amazingly, and against all odds, the pregnancy test was positive.

"So worth it," says Laura.

The two women have been friends for years, with Laura acting as a bridesmaid at Emma's wedding.

Baby Ella was born in November, twelve days overdue. Now, Laura says the whole process was worth it.

"Yes, it was incredibly hard," she said, "But it's incredibly rewarding."

"Being able to give Emma and Thomas their own baby that they so much deserved and so wanted and were so ready for was the end goal, and obviously when she was born it was all worth it."

"She's a perfect baby," said Emma.

"The whole journey feels totally miraculous and she feels like a real miracle."