Wednesday, January 19, 2005

NO FOOL LIKE AN OLD FOOL. Most people think about taking it easy in their sixties. They might want to retire, travel, or pursue different interests. If they think about babies, they mean grandchildren.

This is not the case for Adriana Illescu, a 66 year old professor in Romania. She has just had a baby, and may be the oldest woman to give birth.

This is a woman who really wanted to have a baby. She is unmarried, but nonetheless has been taking fertility treatments for 9 years. She became “pregnant” by receiving both sperm and egg from donors through in vitro fertilization.

It does, however, point out several of the problems of women having children well outside of child bearing years. Illescu was pregnant with twins, but one was stillborn. She weighed only 1 pound, 8 ounces. The child that made it was born more than six weeks early and weighed just 3 pounds, 3 ounces. She is in an incubator in intensive care. Illescu is in intensive care also.

If the baby lives, she will have a mother who is 66 years older than her. If the mother lives to the life expectancy of the average woman, around 72 years, the child will be orphaned at 6 years old. That does not seem fair at all to the child.

The ability of doctors and scientists to do things has outstripped their ethical abilities. It seems like there should be some limits to what can be done, as it affects lives. Illescu gets to fulfill her dream of having a child, but what kind of life will the child have?
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