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57-year-old UK woman gives birth to 'surprise' baby

31 March 2008
Appeared in BioNews 451

A 57-year-old woman has become one of the oldest first time mothers in the UK, after initially being told that her pregnancy could be ovarian cancer.

Eight weeks prior to giving birth, Susan Tollefsen was sent for emergency hospital tests on a growing swelling, suspected to be ovarian cancer, only to be told by the sonographer that she was 30 weeks pregnant.

Ms Tollefsen, a teacher, and her partner Nick Mayer, had been attempting to conceive for several years, but in the UK IVF is not funded for women over 40. The couple had travelled to a Moscow clinic to have fertility treatment using donor eggs, which had been fertilised with Mr Mayer's sperm.

In August last year Ms Tollefsen was taken to hospital having suffered a suspected miscarriage, which appeared to be confirmed by blood tests. A later examination revealed an abdominal mass, which then turned out to be the pregnancy. Ms Tollefsen believes that she miscarried one of her twins, and that the other one survived.

Nine weeks after the scan revealed the pregnancy, Ms Tollefsen's daughter Freya was born by caesarean section, weighing 6lb 6oz. Ms Tollefsen said, 'the doctor held her up, I took one look and burst into tears'. Medical checks confirmed that Freya was healthy and had developed normally.

In 2006, 62-year old Patricia Rashbrook became the UK's oldest woman to have a child, following treatment with donor eggs carried out in Eastern Europe. The oldest woman in the world to have given birth following fertility treatment is Adriana Iliescu, a Romanian woman, who gave birth aged 66 in 2005. Clinics in the UK are not likely to treat women in their fifties and sixties - even though it is not illegal to do so, most clinics have an upper age limit and few would treat women over the age of 45.

Cancer scan reveals surprise for mum, 57 |  30 March 2008
'Miracle' first baby for woman of 57
The Scotsman |  30 March 2008
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....
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