Sikh woman, 60, gives birth to twins
A woman of 60 is thought to have become the oldest mother in Canada and perhaps the oldest Sikh woman ever to give birth.
In-vitro fertilisation in her native India ended 40 unsuccessful years of trying for a child for Ranjit Hayer and her husband Jagir.
They are now proud parents of twin boys Manjot and Gurpreet, who were born seven weeks prematurely by caesarian section in Calgary’s Foothills Hospital. Initially under special care, the babies will be kept in hospital until they can breathe on their own and reach a specified weight.
Ranjit was reportedly refused in-vitro help in Canada because the authorities are wary of complications and even fatality in pregnant women over the age of 45. So she travelled to India to be fertilised with donated eggs.
Jagir told a Calgary newspaper he was very happy that God had given him boys late in life and wanted “to celebrate with a big party”.
Ranjit’s younger sister Daljit said the family had always prayed for the couple to have children – because it was very unusual in Indian culture for a married couple not to have them.
The story featured prominently in the Canadian media. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported Ranjit as saying through a Punjabi translator that she had always had her heart set on having a baby.
She had urged her husband to marry someone else, she said, but he would say to her: “There’s nothing wrong with you. If God wants to give us kids, he will.”
It was to be a mixed blessing in terms of Ranjit’s health.
The CBC report said Ranjit had miscarried three times over the years.
An obstetrician advised surgery because of a problem with the womb but still Ranjit could not conceive.
Then, another setback. The Hayers paid a doctor in India for in-vitro treatment but he disappeared with their money.
The couple saved for another trip to India and this time Ranjit got pregnant with triplets, although one of them had to be terminated for medical reasons.
It was to be a difficult confinement. She was found to be suffering from a condition called placenta previa which can cause severe bleeding and spent four weeks in hospital before the birth so medical staff could give her constant attention.
The onset of haemorrhaging forced doctors into action with the caesarian section, but they also removed her uterus. She was taken into intensive care and needed blood transfusions.
The pregnancy left Ranjit with high blood pressure and diabetes and the birth provoked a great deal of discussion in medical circles.
Obstetrician Colin Birch said he was excited by the challenge (of delivering the babies safely) but still pondering the social implications.
He told CBC that medical technology was stretching boundaries but commented: “There’s not just one generation gap here, there’s two generation gaps. They (the Hayers) are really what would be like the age of grandparents.”
University of Calgary health research ethicist Glenys Godlovitch said there was an issue with patients seeking treatment elsewhere and then asking the Canadian healthcare system or taxpayer to support after-care.
There were also the social implications of raising children when the parents might not live long enough to see them grow up.
The desire for children, however, seems to be one that cannot be suppressed by age among people from the Indian subcontinent.
The oldest woman in the world to become a mother was Omkari Panwar, who gave birth to twins in Muzaffarnaga, Uttar Pradesh, in summer 2008. She was 70.
– What do you think of women becoming mothers at a very advanced age? Is it proper fulfillment whatever the age? Or selfish folly on the part of older people who may die before their offspring reach adulthood, or possibly even their teenage years?
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