What you need to know:
- Ms Safiina Namukwaya, a resident of Masaka District, gave birth yesterday to a boy and a girl each weighing 1.7kgs at the Women’s Hospital International Fertility Centre in Kampala where she had been for five-days in preparation for delivery in a private room.
A 70-year-old woman has defied the biological clock by giving birth to twins.
Ms Safiina Namukwaya, a resident of Masaka District, gave birth yesterday to a boy and a girl each weighing 1.7kgs at the Women’s Hospital International Fertility Centre in Kampala where she had been for five-days in preparation for delivery in a private room.
Ms Namukwaya conceived through In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) which was done by Dr Edward Sali, the proprietor of the Women’s Hospital International Fertility Centre.
In an interview with the Monitor yesterday before giving birth, Ms Namukwaya, said: “A miracle is going to happen here today (yesterday). I was brought here by a friend who assured me that I will be able to get a child after waiting for a long time.”
She said carrying twins at her age is not a cup of tea.
Biologically, women go into menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. The World Health Organisation describes menopause as “one point in a continuum of life stages for women and marks the end of their reproductive years”.
“There was a time I fell very sick because of the pregnancy, I spent nearly all my savings. I sought care at a hospital in Kyabakuza and later called Dr Sali. He told me to travel to Kampala but I told him I had no money at all and he organised transport to the hospital,” she narrated.
Her partner has since abandoned her.
“Men don’t like to be told that you are carrying more than one child. Ever since I was admitted here, my man has never showed up. Dr Sali has provided for everything as though he is the father of the children,” she said.
Ms Namukwaya said she decided to get pregnant after she was insulted about being childless.
“I cared for other people’s children and I would see them grow and leave me alone. I wondered who would care for me when I grow old. One time, a very young boy got a misunderstanding and mocked me, saying I had been cursed by my mother to die without a child,” she added.
Ms Namukwaya’s husband died in 1992. During the marriage, she had suffered a miscarriage. Four years after losing her husband , she got into another relationship but she was still unable to bear children.
Asked about her readiness to take care of the babies, she said: “I really don’t know, God is in charge. You see, you can have one child and feel overwhelmed but here I am with twins at a time when I am weak, a time I am unable to go to my garden to grow food for sale, I don’t know!….But they say every child comes with their blessings.”
Ms Namukwaya has one other child, a girl, who was born in 2020.
After about 40 minutes of our conversation, the nurses came to take her to give birth.
Ms Namukwaya walked sluggishly as the nurse continuously asked about how she felt.
Dr Sali personally provided care for Ms Namukwaya.
He said age is just a number in the face of advanced technology.
“She is not the first one. We have delivered more than 60 patients over the period of 15 years who are over 50 years. Safiina came here three years ago at the age of 67 and told me she has been married for 40 years and wanted a baby. So I said look, you’re younger than Sara of the Bible (who gave birth at 90) so it is possible,” he said.
“She was fit and she got her first baby at 67. So she came back this year and asked to have another child. We assessed her and she was fit. Assessment means cardiovascular, blood pressure, we do tests for liver and kidney functionality,” Dr Sali added.
“We normally deal with blood pressure, diabetes and infections so that we reduce the complications that may happen,” he added.
On breast feeding, the fertility specialist, said this should be the least of the mother’s worries.
“Any woman can breastfeed for as long as you put a baby on the breast to stimulate the process. The breast milk will come within seven days. Also, we have other options like breastmilk donors and formula milk for babies,” he said.
He added that pregnancies at such an advanced age are not common due to the natural decline in fertility and increased health risks.
Ms Namukwaya delivered at 34 weeks.
“Complications in pregnancy that happen beyond 32 weeks tend to be deadly, so that is why we decided to get her close for monitoring but also she was now complaining of loss of breath. We wanted to be sure that we don’t get into a situation where she can’t breathe,” the doctor said.
He added: “Normally at her age, she can carry up to 5kgs and both babies are about 2kgs each, so when you add the placenta and uterus, it is about the weight.”
A health worker at the facility said the babies will be in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for a couple of days but “we expect the mother to be out of here within a week. She should be walking around by tomorrow. We will ensure she gets good care, especially with feeding.”
Infertility, according to Dr Sali, is the main reason why people opt for assisted procedures like IVF.
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatment costs between Shs25m to Shs30m the fees for pregnancy care and delivery that could go up to Shs5m.
The prices, however, may differ depending on where you seek the service.