Published June 16, 2010
The world’s oldest new mother is dying at age 72 — after giving birth just 18 months ago.
When she was 70, Rajo Devi Lohan and her husband Balla took out almost $3,000 in loans for IVF treatments in Baddhu Patti, India, to conceive their only child, Naveen.
Now 72, Rajo is bedridden and doesn’t have the strength to lift 18-month-old Naveen. She admits she is dying, and too weak to recover from the pregnancy.
Dr. Keith Ablow, psychiatrist and Fox News Medical A Team member, fears that technology could be partly to blame for this controversial question of ethics.
“This is crossing the boundary into the inevitable results of when people use technology without guidance or conscience. And the trouble is that even reprehensible people can do so,” Ablow told FoxNews.com.
After her Cesarean birth, Rajo’s womb ruptured and she suffered severe internal bleeding.
Rajo and Balla, 73, farmers who have not received any education, say they did not know it was high risk to have a baby at their age, and were never warned of any complications by their doctor.
The doctor who performed the IVF treatments, Anurag Bishnoi, says Rajo’s medical state has nothing to do with his care or her pregnancy so late in life.
"Even though Rajo's health is deteriorating, at least she will die in peace. She does not have to face the stigma of being barren," Bishnoi told The Sun.
Ablow said he believes that after this incident, Bishnoi should be prevented from being able to make these kinds of medical decisions.
“This is not a doctor; this person should not be regarded as a doctor and stripped of any credentials regarding him as medical professional. He is a co-conspirator in a medical experiment,” Ablow said.
The National Fertility Centre in Haryana, where Rajo received her treatments, was criticized for helping another Indian woman, Bhateri Devi, give birth to triplets through IVF when the woman was 66. The center claims no wrongdoing in the pregnancies of both women.
Besides physical complications, another concern is the soundness of mind at the advanced ages of these women, as well as their ability to rationally think through her feelings of wanting to be a mother.
“If this doctor doesn’t have convincing data on hand that these women are competent to make medical decisions, then him impregnating them artificially should be viewed as an assault and treated criminally,” Ablow said.
“These are women who put their own feelings about wanting to have children, maybe even regret for not having them earlier, ahead of any concerns about the development of their children,” he said.
Aside from the physical health risks to a child being born to an elderly mother, the potential for psychological damage could be significant.
“These children have to live with people who make irrational decisions based on their well being with no concern for others, which is something no one wants in a parent, Ablow said. “Later on, it is likely that these children will be anxious when they understand how old their parents are and that they may not survive very long — and that will have its own psychological impact.”