IVF for Seniors Sparks Debate
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17 June 2010
By Sumitra Deb Roy
Bhateri Devi from Hisar in Haryana could well be the oldest mother to have given birth to triplets at 66 with the help of in–vitro fertilisation (IVF), but the medical fraternity is not willing to call it an achievement. Besides, news of the world’s oldest mother–72–year–old Rajo Devi Lohan–being critical after giving birth to a child 18 months ago has many doctors worried.
Devi’s doctor Dr Anurag Bishnoi cited social reasons for going ahead with the embryo transfer despite her advanced age. “For decades, a childless woman in northern India was forced to be a mute witness to her husband’s remarriage. This prompted many to end their lives,” said Bishnoi. “If we provide a medical solution to a social problem, what’s the harm,” he asked. He was quick to add that villages are still not open to the idea of adoption or surrogacy.
Bishnoi claims that every month he is approached by at least one woman aged over 60 who is willing to undergo the painful IVF treatment. “But, we send most of them back after informing them about their physical limitations,” he said. Rajo Devi also conceived at Dr Bishnoi’s clinic.
On Tuesday, 55–year–old Shobha Vidyadhar Joshi from Dhule gave birth to a boy at a Thane clinic. The couple was childless for 35 years.
“As a doctor, I am no one to deny motherhood to a woman if she is physically and mentally healthy to go forward with the pregnancy,” said Dr Sandeep Mane, who treated Shobha.
But, the Federation of Obstetrics & Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) is not amused. “This cannot be hailed as a medical achievement. It is, in fact, a transgression of ethical guidelines,” said Dr Sanjay Gupte, president of FOGSI.
Some are of the opinion that some thought should also be spared for kids born to aged women.Infertility specialist Dr Duru Shah said the life–expectancy of an Indian woman is around 68 years. “The mother is left with little time to take care of the child,” she said.
The Indian Council of Medical Research does not state clearly the age limit for women who want to go in for IVF.