A 66-year-old Indian woman has become the oldest person in the world to give birth to triplets after IVF treatment at a controversial centre. Bhateri Devi, 66, wanted to be a mother all her life. And now she finally is – three times over. Devi, who is now thought to hold the title for the oldest mother of triplets in the world, gave birth after undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments at a well-known fertility center in India.
Bhateri Devi, 66, gave birth to two boys and a girl – who are now being treated in intensive care after being born dangerously underweight. Mrs Devi received IVF treatment at the National Fertility Centre in Haryana – where the world’s oldest mother, Rajo Devi Lohan, was also treated. However, the doctors said the triplets, weighing 2lb 6oz, 2lb 4oz and 1lb 7oz, were being monitored in the intensive care unit of the centre.
Mrs Lohan, 72, who gave birth 18 months ago aged 70, has today revealed she is dying – and hit out at the centre for not explaining the risks to women about having babies later in life.
However, officials at the centre proudly boasted of their latest achievement. Dr Anurag Bishnoi, who supervised Mrs Devi’s treatment, said: ‘According to the birth certificate issued by a government hospital in Rohtak district, Bhateri Devi was born on May 21, 1944, in Madina village of Rohtak.
‘This birth is authentic and therefore she has become the oldest mother in the world to give birth to triplets so far. ‘Bhateri Devi was coming to us for the last months for the treatment. She has become a mother for the first time and conceived only in our third attempt through IVF technique. ‘For the first two attempts, only two embryos were transferred in each cycle. ‘But in the third attempt three embryos were transferred in her uterus, resulting in the birth of three children by caesarean.’
Mrs Devi’s husband of 44 years, Deva Singh, 64, said he was ecstatic at becoming a father for the first time. ‘Bhateri has fulfilled my dream of having a child and gave my family an heir.’ he said. ‘She was my first wife and after she failed to conceive a child, I married twice but again I did not have any child from my other wives also. ‘I am very happy and I will provide all the best facilities to my children in the coming years.’
Previously, 70-year-old Mrs Lohan made headlines after she gave birth to a girl through IVF technique at the same centre. She and husband Balla, 73, are uneducated farmers who say they did not understand the risk of having a baby at such an old age.
Nine years and many battles later, Bhateri Devi is still going strong
On May 29, 2010, the then 66-year-old from Satrod village in Haryana’s Hisar district had given birth to triplets, two sons and a daughter, after nearly 50 years of marriage, and three cycles of in-vitro fertilisation. The delivery, hailed as a “miracle” in medical circles, aroused curiosity and derision in equal measure, with the media descending in hordes to catch a glimpse of the wonder woman and her babies. But unknown to Bhateri and her triplets, a debate swirled around the question of medical ethics and the lack of regulation surrounding Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) such as In-Vitro fertilisation (IVF).
“They turned 9 in May this year, but we did not celebrate it because of their father’s death. I will do it next year,” says Devi, as her children pore over the photographs. “That is me,” says Isha, pointing to a photograph of herself on her seventh birthday. “She is dressed like a boy,” Bhupender teases her. “I wanted clothes just like him, so papa got me shirt and trousers,” she responds. The photograph has Singh and Devi standing behind their children, as they prepare to cut the cake.
Since Singh’s death, Devi has got her younger sister, Nanhi Devi, in her 60s, to move in with her to help with the children. “I have also been doing a lot of paperwork… I never thought I would have to do all this. I have just come back from the patwari (land officer). After Dewa Singh’s death, I have to now get all the land — 20 acres of it — transferred in my name. For now, I have given the land on rent,” she says.