April 20, 2024

UK IVF doctors reject age cap for patients

No right and wrong answers, say specialists

Sue Tollefsen and her first babySenior fertility specialists in the UK have rejected calls for an age cap on IVF eligibility. After 59-year-old Sue Tollefsen
featured in a BBC documentary about her desire to get IVF in Britain so
that she could give birth at 60, there were howls of indignation from
the public. But doctors backed up Ms Tollefsen’s claim that she was fit to be a mother even though she would be 70 when her child was ten. “I agree there should be a cut-off
point,” she told the London Times. “Perhaps 65 is too old, but I’m still so healthy I don’t see why I
shouldn’t be treated.” 

Tony Rutherford, president of the British Fertility Society, said that he saw no need for an arbitrary
cut-off point for IVF with donated eggs. “There are concerns about treating
women in their fifties because of increased risks to both the mother and
baby. Many doctors, myself included, would not treat at that age, but the
society’s view is that clinics can take a case-by-case approach. There
aren’t any right and wrong answers in this situation.”

Allan Pacey, of the University of Sheffield, said: “I would
argue against a need to legislate on this issue. Whatever age limit the
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority or parliamentarians choose to
make, there will always be cases from time to time where women are a few
days older than whatever age is chosen and argue that the law has treated
them unfairly. If a rigid law is made, then all it takes is a women to get on a budget
airline to another country and get around the law that way. This has its own
dangers and we seem to be willing to stick out heads in the sand about that.”

Ms Tollefsen
had her first child two years ago — an IVF daughter, Freya, conceived
in Moscow with donor eggs. Although she is well aware of the age
problem, she says that her husband is 10 years younger than her and
will be able to care for the children if she passes away. The Sun’s
agony aunt, Deidre Sanders, took a more moralistic stand. “Sue talks
almost exclusively about her own feelings. This is all about meeting
her needs now, not her kids’ in the long term. The fact is there is a
serious risk that Freya and any sibling could end up carers for their
mum while still in their teens.” ~ Sun, Jan 19; London Times, Jan 18


Michael Cook
age limit