The Jerusalem Post
Chaya Shahar, a 65-year-old ultra-Orthodox, Chassidic woman from Bnai Brak who has been unable to have a baby during her 46-year marriage to her 67-year-old husband Shmuel, gave birth on Monday to a healthy baby boy by caesarean section at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba.
It made her the oldest woman in Israel to give birth – not far behind the world’s record holder – Spain’s Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara, who was 66 years and 358 days old when she gave birth to twins.
Shahar’s 2.68-kilo (5.14 pound) baby was produced with donated or purchased sperm, but the hospital would not disclose exactly – although it may have been in Russia. In any case, it is illegal in this country to perform fertility treatments on a woman over 54.
“We do not recommend this,” emphasized Dr. Tal Biron, an obstetrician/gynecologist at the Kfar Saba hospital. “It is illegal to perform in-vitro fertilization on a woman of this age, and it is dangerous. There are many possible complications. Pregnancy is an unnecessary burden on the mother’s body.”
But she added that “we were very excited during the delivery. I have no doubt she will be an excellent mother. She is a very special person. The baby is very cute.”
The risk of pregnancy complications increases as the mother’s age increases. Risks connected with childbearing over the age of 50 include an increased incidence of gestational diabetes, hypertension, delivery by caesarean section, miscarriage, preeclampsia and placenta previa (placenta too low in the uterus). In comparison to mothers between 20 and 29 years of age, mothers over 50 are at almost three times the risk of low birth weight, premature birth and extremely premature birth; their risk of extremely low birth weight, small size for gestational age and fetal mortality was almost double.
The parents, who were extremely grateful to hospital doctors and nurses, credited their Admor from Nadvorna’s blessing three years ago for the success of the pregnancy. The baby, whose circumcision is due to be held in a week, will be able to breastfeed, Biron said. The husband was not in the operating room during the delivery but just outside the door. The mother was alert when the baby was removed from the womb through her abdominal wall.
The Shalom Zachor ceremony on the eve of Shabbat after delivery will be held at the table of the Admor in Bnai Brak. The couple also have a very supportive extended family, said Biron.
Biron said that the woman presented herself at her department during her 12th week of pregnancy visited the high-risk pregnancy outpatient clinic weekly, with no need for a long hospitalization before. “She underwent ultrasound scans and all other necessary tests. She always cooperated and never complained. Her message to Israel after the operation was ‘Never give up.’ ”