Lynne Bezant, 56, is set to become the UK's oldest mother of twins following IVF (in vitro fertilisation) treatment using donor eggs. Professor Ian Craft, director of the London Gynaecology and Fertility Centre, last week defended the private clinic's decision to treat the couple, saying it had not broken any rules. But news of the pregnancy has provoked criticism from both fellow doctors and media commentators.
The Royal College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians said that most IVF clinics would only treat women under 50. 'The welfare of the child is paramount, and elderly parents are not considered to be in the best interests of the child' said Peter Bowen-Simpkins. But Professor Craft said that the Bezants were healthy and stable, and that his clinic's upper limit for treatment was 55 - the age of the oldest known woman in Britain to conceive naturally.
The couple have three grown-up children and had always wanted more, Mrs Bezant told the Mirror newspaper. But following a series of miscarriages and the birth of still-born twins 20 years ago, Mr Bezant underwent a vasectomy. After approaching the fertility clinic when Mrs Bezant was 52, the couple had to wait three years for treatment due to the shortage of donor eggs. Doctors fertilised seven eggs with sperm extracted from Mr Bezant's testicles, and obtained three embryos, two of which were successfully implanted in Mrs Bezant's womb.
A spokesman for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority said that clinics were required to carry out an assessment of the welfare of the child. 'However, if the correct procedures have been followed the clinic has the final decision' he added.