Oldest UK woman to have IVF cancels treatment

A 59 year-old woman has backed out of IVF (in vitro fertilisation) treatment at the last minute, as she feels the risks at her age are too great. Susan Tollefsen said she was worried after she nearly died following ill-effects from her previous IVF-enabled birth.
‘We’ve basically decided the risks are too great and I’m too old. My advice to older women wanting children is don’t risk it’, said Mrs Tollefsen, a retired teacher.

Mrs Tollefsen already has a daughter, Freya, conceived through IVF when she was 57. However, she had to travel to a Russian clinic for IVF using a donor egg after being refused treatment in the UK because of her age. A burst ulcer in her stomach after the birth nearly killed her.

‘We want a sibling for Freya for when we are not around but we had to seriously reconsider it. The doctors didn’t have any problems treating me but I know there are huge risks. I wish I was 35 again but I’m not – and I’ve got to realise that, however hard it is. I had hoped to set a precedent for older women but that’s not going to happen.’

Peter Bowen-Simpkins, medical director of the London Women’s Clinic in Harley Street, said: ‘I would very strongly agree with the view that in general women over 50 should not have IVF treatments. While in some cases there are compelling reasons, I think it is unlikely we will see anyone else of 59 attempting IVF, and there are a lot of medical reasons they shouldn’t.’

Michaela Aston of the pro-life charity Life, which offers counselling for women considering abortion and fertility treatment, said offering IVF to post-menopausal women was a deeply worrying development. ‘Women of this age do not conceive naturally for a reason, we should be guided by Mother Nature on this.’

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