Fertility treatment for poverty-stricken and post-menopausal women was in the spotlight this week when a woman who gave birth to septuplets after using fertility drugs admitted she could not afford to care for her new children
— and a 70-year-old mother labelled her IVF-conceived daughter a “burden”.
Ghazala Khamis, 27, appealed to the Egyptian government for help this week after delivering three girls and four boys at El-Shatbi hospital in Alexandria last Saturday.
She and her husband, Faraj Muhammed Ali, a farm worker who earns about $4 a day
on the one or two days a week he usually finds work, have three other daughters, aged between five and 10.
“I need someone to help me with housing and food for the children. We can’t cope with this by ourselves,” the mother told Reuters on Monday.
Khamis said her family lived in a mud house in a village without a hospital in Beheira province.
She was reported as saying on BBC Online that she was hoping to be given “an apartment close to doctors’ surgeries, because in our village they are a long way from where we live.
“I want someone to help me provide them with food and clothes. Their father is a farm worker, so there is no one to help me look after them,” Khamis said.
Ali told Reuters his wife had taken fertility drugs in a bid to conceive a boy.
“We already have three girls. She wanted a boy. I told her because of our standard of life three are enough. We were barely coping with three children,” he said.
But Ali still has high hopes for their future.
“I want them to get educated and be successful. I don’t want them to be farmers; I want them to be educated and well-off,” he said.
The boys have been named Hosni, Mubarak, Jamal and Ala’a after the 80-year-old Egyptian president and his two sons, and the girls Suzanne, Khadija and Jihan after the wife of Mubarak and the spouses of his two sons.
Abdel Rahim Mousa, the doctor who prescribed Khamis the fertility drugs two months before she conceived, said no one imagined she would give birth to septuplets.
“We didn’t expect it. She took the right dosage. It’s true drugs can cause twins, but not this many children,” he said.
“She might be able to suckle twins, but not this many.” The babies, who weighed between 1.5kg and 2kg, were in incubators this week after being born six weeks premature.
Khamis’s brother, whose name is Khamis Khamis, admitted that although Egypt’s health ministry had promised to give the babies free milk and diapers for two years, the family was still worried about the long-term financial burden of raising 10 children.
“What they need most is a dwelling to live in. I hope the government will give them an apartment,” Khamis told AP. “With the help of Allah, they will make it, but I think it will be difficult.”
Meanwhile, 70-year-old Omkari Panwar, who gave birth to twins on June 27 to become the oldest mother in the world, admitted that although she was proud to have a son, she now had “another daughter to feed too”, UK tabloid The Daily Mail has reported.
Omkari and her husband, Charan Singh Panwar, 77, mortgaged their farm, used all their savings and took out a loan to pay £4400 for fertility treatment in the hope of conceiving a boy who could inherit.
The couple already have two daughters in their 30s and five grandchildren.
“We paid all this money to the doctors for a son, but now we have the extra burden of another daughter as well,” she reportedly told the Daily Mail .
Boys are cherished in India because daughters are not allowed to inherit property. Instead, they leave to marry and become part of their new husband’s family.
The couple admitted they would have to rely on family hand-outs and the charity of fellow villagers to raise their new children.
“I’ve finally got what I wanted and I can die a happy man now,” said Charan.
“My wife will look after the babies when I am gone, and after she dies my other daughters will care for them. It will be an honour for them to raise their new brother.”