In a rare case, a 63-year-old Bulawayo woman gave birth through In Vitro Fertilisation Procedure (IVF) at the Bulawayo Assisted Reproductive Technology (BART) centre, one of only five women in the world to deliver through that procedure at that age.
During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from ovaries and fertilised by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilised egg (embryo) or eggs (embryos) are transferred to the uterus.
BART has been specialising in helping people with fertility problems since it was opened in December 2016.
It is the second such centre in the country after the first one was opened in the 1980s in Harare.
IVF may be an option if a partner has a blocked Fallopian tube which makes it difficult for an egg to be fertilised or for an embryo to travel to the uterus.
A couple can also opt for IVF if the woman has uterine fibroids that can interfere with implantation of a fertilised egg.
In an interview, BART chief director, Dr Jephat Moyo said the case of the 63 -year- old woman was rare and they were happy it was successful.
“In IVF we cannot say we have a definite age for the procedure to be successful but the chances are very slim in old women like in this case. I think in the world not more than five cases of women who have conceived at 60 years and above have been reported,” said Dr Moyo.
He however said he could not give more details regarding the fortunate Bulawayo woman as she indicated that she is relucant to share her story. Most mothers who conceive through the procedure are reluctant to share their success stories due to stigma.
Dr Moyo said their success rate at the moment is at 40-45 percent with over 127 babies having been born from the procedure since the opening of the centre.
“In order for one to be eligible there are some tests that they need to go through. We first determine which fertility problem one has and see whether it cannot be managed through using other medicines. It is only after all other alternatives have failed that we go for IVF,” he said.
Dr Moyo said most of the time it’s done when someone has blocked tubes and the sperms cannot travel freely to the egg or when a man has low sperm count which makes it difficult for them to fertilise the eggs.
“A patient may have to be injected for as long as 12 days and each day spending around US$150-200. If one calculates the costs the whole procedure becomes a bit expensive,” said Dr Moyo.
He said the centre was not limited to Bulawayo as people from across the country were accessing its services.
Dr Moyo said a baby conceived through IVF is as normal as any other baby hence the need for awareness campaigns to fight stigma.
“No one wants to be associated with IVF because they are scared of society,” said Dr Moyo.
Early this year a case of a 63-year-old from Nigeria Mrs Temitope Ogundiphe delivered a baby boy through IVF at Olives Specialist Hospital, Ado – Ekiti.
In 2016 at a private hospital in Melbourne a 63-year-old woman became the oldest mother in Australia after giving birth to a baby girl. *Chronicle*