Archive for Thursday, July 16, 2009

Oldest woman to give birth dies, leaving 2-year-old twins

July 16, 2009


— She devoted years to caring for her mother, who died at age 101. Then Maria del Carmen Bousada embarked on a quest to become a mom herself. She lied to a California fertility clinic to skirt its age limit, and later pointed to her mother’s longevity as a reason to expect she’d be around to care for her kids.

At age 66 she had twins, becoming the world’s oldest new mom — and raising questions about maternity so late in life. Now she is dead at age 69, leaving behind boys not yet 3.

Bousada’s brother told the Diario de Cadiz newspaper his sister died Saturday, though he did not disclose the cause. Bousada said in November that she was being treated for stomach cancer.

Shortly after her sons, Pau and Christian, were born in December 2006, Bousada reflected on her decision to deceive doctors in order to have a family.

“I think everyone should become a mother at the right time for them,” she told the British tabloid News of the World, which showed her beaming as she cradled her 1-month-old infants, both dressed in pale blue pajamas.

“Often circumstances put you between a rock and a hard place, and maybe things shouldn’t have been done in the way they were done, but that was the only way to achieve the thing I had always dreamed of, and I did it,” she said.

Beginning in 2005, Bousada underwent hormone treatments to reverse nearly 20 years of menopause and sold her house to pay for in vitro fertilization at the Pacific Fertility Clinic in Los Angeles.

Slender with dark brown hair, she told the clinic she was 55 — the facility’s maximum age for single women undergoing the procedure. When her sons were born in December 2006, Guinness World Records said she was the oldest woman on record to give birth.

Dr. Vicken Sahakian, director and owner of the clinic, said Bousada falsified her birth date on documents from Spain.

When he learned of the deception, “I figured something might happen and wind up being a disaster for these kids, and unfortunately I was right,” he told The Associated Press.

It’s easy for women to lie to their doctors, Sahakian said.

“We don’t ask for passports, obviously. When is the last time you went to a doctor and he asked you for a birth certificate? We’re not detectives here,” he said.

Sahakian said he implanted the Spanish woman with a younger woman’s eggs and donated sperm, using hormone therapy to “rejuvenate” her uterus after she had been in menopause for 18 years.

The hormone treatment lasted three weeks. Sahakian said he did not believe that increased the woman’s cancer risk.

“Nothing she did (to get pregnant) caused her illness,” he said.

The brother, Ricardo Bousada, told the Barcelona-based newspaper El Periodico de Catalunya that he had sold details of his sister’s death to an unidentified television program and the proceeds would go to looking after his sister’s twins.

Repeated calls to Ricardo Bousada’s residence in the southern province of Cadiz went unanswered Wednesday.

Another brother, Jose Luis Bousada, told the AP he was estranged from his siblings and read about his sister’s death in the newspaper. Asked who might raise the children, he said he imagined arrangements had been made and “I suppose there will be no problem.”

When she revealed last November she had stomach cancer, Bousada said she did not regret having children late in life and that her sons would be well-cared for no matter what happened to their mother.

Addressing her mortality and her children’s tender age, she told Spanish television station Antena 3: “I hope God does not ... I want to hang on at least until they are 18.”


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