21 June 2010
ByAppeared in BioNews 563
Mrs Bhateri Devi, 66, from India has become the oldest woman to give birth to triplets.
The children are Mrs Devi's first, and were conceived through IVF treatment at the National Fertility Centre in Haryana state, northern India. The two boys and a girl are being kept in intensive care as they are dangerously underweight.
Dr Anurag Bishnoi, who supervised Mrs Devi's treatment, said the first two IVF attempts using two eggs failed, so the doctors used three in the third cycle, resulting in the triplets. They were delivered by caesarean section.
Mrs Devi's husband of 44 years said he was ecstatic at becoming a father for the first time. 'Bhateri has fulfilled my dream of having a child and gave my family an heir', he said. In India, being unable to have children throughout married life can stigmatise women.
However the triplets come in the wake of the news that Mrs Rajo Lohan, who at 70 became the world's oldest mother, is dying from IVF-assisted pregnancy complications 18 months after the birth of her daughter at the same National Fertility Centre. Mrs Lohan suffered internal bleeding and her womb ruptured after the caesarean birth. She also needed difficult surgery to remove an ovarian cyst. Her body has not recovered from the two operations and she is now bedridden.
Dr Bishnoi also treated Mrs Lohan and denied her illness was linked to her pregnancy. 'Even though Rajo's health is deteriorating, at least she will die in peace', he said. 'She does not have to face the stigma of being barren. She had an ovarian cyst that was causing her problems but that has now been removed. The IVF treatment is completely safe. Rajo is an old woman and her life expectancy was only about five to seven years'.
Mrs Lohan and her husband are uneducated farmers. She said the dangers of the treatment were never fully explained to them: 'the doctor never warned me it was dangerous to have a baby at my age. But I was healthy before, and now I am very sick'. After nearly 54 years of marriage the couple were desperate to have a child, so took out loans to pay for the £2,000 IVF treatment.