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92-year-old woman vows to live long enough to meet great-great-granddaughter

Doctors said Jean Roper had three weeks to live. But her health suddenly improved when she learned the family was expecting a baby girl.
/ Source: TODAY

Doctors said she had only weeks to live — but then something amazing happened.

Earlier this year, Kayla Tracy and her family were preparing to say goodbye to Jean Roper, her 92-year-old great-grandmother, whose health was rapidly declining. Roper had severe kidney damage, and she was having trouble getting around her house or even out of bed.

Kayla Tracy, Jean Roper
Jean Roper meets her newest great-great-grandchild for the first time.Kayla Tracy Photography

"They ran a few tests and her kidney function was really, really low, and her oxygen level was extremely low," Tracy, 24, told TODAY. "The doctor told my grandfather and my uncle that she only had three weeks to live, if that."

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That was at the end of last year. But soon after her prognosis, Roper learned that Tracy's sister, who was expecting a baby, was having a girl and that she planned to name the baby after her: Magnolia Jean.

Kayla Tracy, Jean Roper
The baby was named Magnolia Jean, after her great-great-grandmother, Jean Roper.Kayla Tracy Photography

Roper, whose family lives in Trussville, Alabama, has several great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren already, but most are boys. (Tracy herself has two boys.) Roper was so excited at the idea of having another girl in the family, she vowed to stay alive until the baby was born, Tracy explained.

"Her energy shot up. She was completely different," she said. "She was so excited to see the baby."

Magnolia Jean was born on Jan. 31.

Tracy was at her great-grandmother's house when her sister arrived with the baby.

Kayla Tracy, Jean Roper
Magnolia Jean (Magnolia, for the trees outside the family's home, and Jean, for her great-great-grandmother) was born on January 31.Kayla Tracy Photography

"She shot right up out of her rocking chair — and she hadn't been walking at all!" Tracy said. "She had a walker and could barely get out of bed. But the day that baby came, she walked from her bedroom all the way down to the hall to her front door to greet them, which was outrageous."

Tracy, who has a photography business, took photos of the moment her great-grandmother met Magnolia Jean, and shared them on Facebook, where they've since gone viral.

Kayla Tracy, Jean Roper
Jean Roper and her husband of 75 years meet the newest member of their family.Kayla Tracy Photography

She said her great-grandmother's health continues to improve. Recently nurses removed her oxygen tanks because she no longer needs them, she said.

"They all think it's such a miracle, because she was going very soon, and then all of a sudden ..." Tracy said.

She said her whole family, including Roper, is shocked by how much attention the photos have gotten online.

"She cannot believe how many people have seen her story and cared to look at it," Tracy said. "It's been an incredible reaction. Everybody's been super positive."