(STURGEON LAKE, Minn.) — When Jodi Wegge gave birth to her daughter Lindsay in 1999, the baby was three and a half weeks early and a breech birth. The placenta erupted and she had an emergency cesarean section, losing so much blood that she died on the table for 32 seconds as her organs shut down.
“The baby was fine, and I had a two percent chance,” said Wegge from Sturgeon Lake, Minn, now 47. She lost her uterus in a hysterectomy, but luckily retained her ovaries.
Today, Wegge’s daughter is 16, but she also has 13-year-old biological triplets who were conceived through in vitro fertilization with her husband Dan’s sperm and her own eggs.
She owes it all to gestational carrier Meredith Olafson, who at the age of 47 has just “retired” her uterus after giving birth to 15 children, four of them her own.
The Wegge triplets were the first of 11 surrogate children that Olafson delivered over the last 16 years. And on March 29, she gave birth to her 11th and last surrogate child, a girl.
“I am stopping because of my age and six C-sections,” said Olafson, a private nurse from Fargo, N.D., and a grandmother. “It’s kind of a lot, and it’s time to say we’re done.”
The Wegge triplets were the first children born from a gestational carrier in the state. The families hired a private attorney who eventually helped write the laws of surrogacy in North Dakota.
“I love her,” Wegge said of Olafson. “I call her every year on their birthday at 7 in the morning. When the phone rings on April 29, she knows it’s me and I simply say, ‘Thank you.'”
Olafson, who has four children of her own aged 16 to 24, has given birth to two sets of triplets and a set of twins, as well as three singletons. None of them are her biological children because the parents supplied the embryos.
“We never went into it to make money,” said Olafson, who has a sense of humor and the full support of husband Jay. “Our intention was for people who are unable to have their own children to go through the same torment as we went through with our children.”
“It is easier on families, too, knowing they are their kids — and for my family, knowing they are not related to them,” she said.
Olafson is, perhaps, the most prolific surrogate mother in the United States, only outdone by Carole Horlock, a British woman who has given birth to 12 babies for other women and now lives in France.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio