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The Canon Rebel 3Ti EF lenses will work with pretty much any other Canon DSLRs with sub-frame sensors - e.g. XS, Rebel XSi, Rebel T1i, T2i, T3, EOS 50D, 60D, and EOS 7D).
You are correct that there is not much difference between 18MP and 23MP in terms of quality - the main benefits she might get in a new 23MP camera are better functions on the camera itself, rather than more detail on the photograph.
If you want a really serious 50MP camera then you would be looking for the EOS 5DS or similar:
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Yes, I agree it would definitely be worth going for double the MP for just an extra $1000.
Yes, the EF lenses she already owns are compatible with other Canon DSLR cameras including the 50MP camera.