TOKYO – A 60-year-old woman impregnated in the United States via in-vitro fertilization will become what is believed to be the oldest single mother in Japan to give birth from a donated egg, medical officials said Thursday.
The woman, whose name is being withheld by officials because of privacy concerns, recently found an obstetrician willing to handle her case 15 weeks into her pregnancy after being rejected by other clinics, her doctor said.
"Considering that she's 60 years old and single, which means high risk and an uncertain future for a child, I had to make a tough decision about whether to handle the pregnancy," said Yahiro Netsu, gynecologist at Suwa Maternity Clinic in Nagano, central Japan, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "But she wanted a child, and I decided to do all I can to help her through expected difficulties."
In May of this year, a 60-year-old American woman gave birth to twins at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J. Click here to read that story
Surrogate births and artificial insemination are extremely rare in Japan because of ethical concerns in the tradition-bound medical profession, a lack of donors and dearth of doctors willing to provide such treatments.
Though there is no law banning single women from having the procedures, births from donated eggs are strictly limited to married couples under a Japanese medical association guideline, prompting many women and couples to seek the treatments in the U.S. and other countries.
"But when they come back being pregnant, they are rejected" as most doctors follow strict guidelines set by the obstetrics and gynecology society, Netsu said.
The case was a typical example underscoring the problem in Japan, where single motherhood is also exceedingly rare.
Kyodo News agency said that the woman is believed to be the oldest single woman to give birth from donated eggs.
But an official at Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology said it was difficult to confirm that because such procedures are rare and not regulated by the government, and could possibly occur without being reported.
The oldest known pregnancy case in Japan involved a 60-year-old married woman who gave birth in 2001 after in vitro fertilization using a donated egg in the U.S. and her husband's sperm, the Yomiuri newspaper reported Thursday.
The society official, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing sensitivity of the topic, said that the case highlighted a need for Japan to establish a law regulating such procedures.
The oldest woman in the world to give birth is believed to be a Romanian who had a daughter in January 2005 at age 66. Last year, a 63-year-old woman gave birth to a baby boy by Caesarean sectionin Britain