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Last chance of motherhood for single woman aged 60

8 October 2007
Appeared in BioNews 428

It would appear that the quest for motherhood is for some, a desire that fails to subside with age. Empowered by new technologies such as IVF treatments, women are increasingly seeking the assistance of fertility clinics to fulfil their aim of bearing a child when their biological clock has ground to a halt. For single women in Japan, however, this type of assistance is not so easy to come by. Strict laws in the field of surrogacy and artificial insemination are imposed due to the country's traditional approach to human reproduction. As a result, fertility treatment is provided almost exclusively to married couples.

Undeterred, a single 60-year old Japanese woman has taken such restrictions into her own hands. The Times newspaper has reported this week that the woman, who wished to remain anonymous, is now in her fifteenth week of pregnancy after travelling to the United States for fertility treatment. She is believed to be the first and oldest single woman to conceive from a donated egg. The use of donated eggs is strictly limited to married couples under a Japanese medical guideline.

After a series of unsuccessful attempts to find a doctor in Japan willing to handle the pregnancy, Yahiro Netsu, a gynaecologist at The Suwa Maternity Clinic in Nagano, central Japan, has stepped in to help. Speaking to the Associated Press, Mr Netsu confessed that the decision had been a tough one, especially as her age and single status meant that the pregnancy was a high risk and an uncertain future for the child. The gynaecologist, however, was won over by the woman's desire to bear a child in spite of her age. He said: 'But she wanted a child, and I decided to do all I can to help her through expected difficulties'.

Although the pregnancy has yet to reach a happy conclusion, Mr Netsu and his patient should take heart from the birth of a healthy baby boy born last summer to a British woman, aged 62. Dr Patricia Rashbrook, a psychiatrist from Lewes, East Sussex, conceived using a donor egg after her fifth attempt at IVF. Her son, nicknamed JJ, weighed a healthy 6 pounds and 10 ounces. But with the trend for older mothers continuing, it would appear that even Dr Rashbrook has been usurped in the trophy for 'The world's oldest mum'. This accolade is believed to go to a 67-year old Spanish woman who gave birth to twin boys following IVF treatment last year. She is closely followed by Adriana Iliescu, from Romania, who had a daughter called Eliza Maria in January in 2005 at the age of 66.

60-year-old woman pregnant
The Times (Japan) |  4 October 2007
Japanese woman aged 60 gets pregnant with donated embryo, set to be single mom
International Herald Tribune |  4 October 2007
Woman, 60, Pregnant With Donated Embryo
AP |  5 October 2007
26 May 2009 - by Dr Sarah Spain 
The record for Britain's oldest women to give birth will be broken next month by 66 year old Elizabeth Munro, from Cambridge. It is thought that Ms Munro, who is single and a successful business woman, travelled to the Ukraine to become pregnant using donor eggs and...
16 February 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard 
A 60 year-old woman has sparked controversy in Canada by travelling to India to receive fertility treatment after years of failed attempts to conceive naturally. Ranjit Hayer, originally from India, has become the oldest woman in Canada to give birth after receiving IVF at Dr Anoop Gupta's Delhi fertility clinic; her twin boys were delivered seven weeks prematurely by Caesarean section at the Foothills hospital in Calgary last week....
26 August 2008 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A baby born to an Indian surrogate mother for a Japanese couple has found herself in the middle of a legal battle over her nationality, the legal status of her parents and immigration rights. Moving towards a closure of the saga, the Indian Supreme Court last week...
7 January 2007 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
A 67-year old Spanish woman has become the world's oldest mother, after giving birth to twins at the end of last month. The woman and her sons are in good health, following a smooth delivery, a spokesman for the Sant Pau hospital in Barcelona said...
10 July 2006 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
A 62-year old woman has become the UK's oldest woman to give birth to a child. Dr Patricia Rashbrook, who already has three children aged 18, 22 and 26, underwent IVF treatment using donor eggs in order to conceive her son, who was born by...
17 January 2005 - by BioNews 
A 66-year-old Romanian woman has become the world's oldest recorded mother, after giving birth to a healthy baby girl. Adriana Iliescu, who was 32 weeks pregnant with twins, underwent a Caesarean section after one of the babies died in the womb. The surviving girl, named Eliza Maria, is still...
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