On 5 September, Mangayamma became a mother for the first time at the age of 74, setting a record. But since then, Mangayamma and her 80-year-old husband Raja Rao – the world’s oldest parents – have been in the Intensive Care Unit of Ahalya Nursing Home in Guntur. But doctors at the hospital have denied reports in the western media that claim that Raja Rao has suffered a heart attack.
“We decided to admit them to the ICU to prevent the couple from getting an infection from visitors. Since the news broke, there has been a steady stream of visitors, both known and unknown to the couple, keen to meet them and hear about their experience. But yes, Raja Rao has developed a lung infection that needs medical attention,” said Dr Aruna at Ahalya Nursing Home.
Dr Umashankar at the same hospital has a slightly different version.
“They were technically not in ICU. It just so happened that the room allotted to them was one of our ICU rooms to ensure privacy. In fact, they are being discharged on Sunday evening,” Dr Umashankar told Filter Kaapi. He also claimed Raja Rao’s lung infection was cured now.
The twin daughters are doing well and are medically healthy, weighing 1.8-1.9 kg. They have been kept in the Neonatal ICU so that they are under constant monitoring and to prevent infection.
The concern for the elderly couple is that Mangayamma’s mother who is 96 years old (seen in pic below) has been running fever but according to the doctors at the Nursing Home, has refused to take any medicines, arguing she never took any all her life.
“Mangayamma’s sutures have been removed. While the doctors at the hospital will stay in touch with the couple and the babies, we are told there are close to 20 family members who will chip in to take care of the twins,” says Dr Umashankar.
While the story had created a lot of curiosity given the age of the parents and the fact that they were childless for the last 57 years, the delivery had led to questions over whether it was ethically right for the doctor in Guntur to encourage the mother to go in for the babies. It sparked a debate over what was called unregulated use of invitro fertilisation in India.
The couple chose the IVF route encouraged by the experience of their 55-year-old neighbour who had become pregnant. Dr Umashankar at Ahalya Nursing Home collected Raja Rao’s sperm and successfully carried out the fertilisation process. The egg was obtained from a donor since Mangayamma had already crossed menopause.
Ahalya Nursing Home doctors argued that it helped that Mangayamma had no health complications usually associated with old age like diabetes and blood pressure related issues. The only drawback was that she is not be able to breast feed the babies and the twins are taking external feed.