Thiruvananthapuram: A 58-year-old woman has given birth to a baby boy in Kerala. While the mother and child are doing well in a hospital in Muvattupuzha, the IVF induced birth has once again brought into sharp focus the ethical and social issues involving assisted reproductive treatment programmes.
She could have been a grandmother, but at 58 Cicily has just given birth to a baby boy.
Having lost her two children to an illness and an accident, Cicily had been craving for a child. With age not on her side, she had to rely on IVF treatment, with eggs from a donor and pregnancy related hormones in order to conceive.
"God has given me a child in this old age. I am extremely happy and thank the doctor," said Cicily, the mother.
"Normally we don't encourage such cases. But since she had a peculiar problem we agreed. We informed about the complications," said Dr Sabine, the gynecologist who made this a success.
Cicily's case, like several others before her, raises many ethical and social questions. Should there be an age cap for fertility treatments? Do we require ethics committees to decide who should or should not be treated? What about the interests and welfare of the child?
Commenting on the issue, Director of the KJK Hospital Dr K Jayakrishnan said, "In a social point of view yes, you can sometime agree to it, but from ethical point of view you have to take into account the mother's health, the existing conditions and the problems which she can develop during pregnancy. These can pose a grave risk for the mother as well as the new born."
The Indian Council of Medical Research had recommended that only women up to the age of 45 should take infertility treatments, but with no law that's binding on infertility centres, cases like Cicily's aren't uncommon.
In 2008, Omkari Panwar, a farmer's wife from Muzzaffarnagar became the world's oldest mother at 77, after undergoing infertility treatment.
In 2009, 59-year-old Rajo Devi from Haryana and her 77-year-old husband Bala Ram had their first child after 55 years of being married.