When Safinah Namukwaya got married to Badru Walusimbi, a resident of Nunda Village in Lwabenge Sub County, Kalungu District in1996, her only wish was to produce at least one baby for him.
Despite being in marriage for 24 years, Namukwaya had not been blessed with children.
When she attempted to get a baby in her first marriage with another man between 1973- 1987, she suffered an ectopic pregnancy (This is when a fertilised egg implants and grows outside the main cavity of the uterus).
After reaching menopause (45 years), Namukwaya’s dream of becoming a mother had started to fade away like a puff of smoke.
In March 2019, when she clocked 63, she visited the Women’s Hospital International and Fertility Centre in Bukoto, Kampala and upon examination, Dr Edward Tamale Ssali, the director of the hospital realised that she can conceive despite her advanced age.
Months later, she conceived and on Thursday (June 25, 2020), Namukwaya gave birthe to a baby girl at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital.
In an interview on Sunday, Dr Ssali said he realized that Namukwaya had blocked tubes and recommended that she is subjected to In -Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), a scientific process where ovaries (eggs) are removed from a woman and sperm from a man, and fertilisation is done in the laboratory in a test tube.
“What we did is that, her egg cells were fertilised outside her body and when the embryos formed, we put them back into her womb,” Dr Ssali said.
He added: “She was lucky that her first attempt resulted in a successful pregnancy because some women make several attempts and fail.”
He said the whole procedure costs Shs15m but since Namukwaya could not raise the money, she was asked to pay Shs 4m.
“As a hospital, we made a top up of Shs11m to enable her get a baby,” the hospital director added.
Dr Ssali said any woman who is not above 70 years and has a strong immunity can still be helped to conceive using her husband’s sperm and sometimes a donated egg from another woman.
“Age is just a number. Using IVF technology, any woman can still have a baby as so long as her immunity is not suppressed by diseases like HIV/Aids,” he said.
Ms Namukwaya becomes the 25th woman in Uganda who is beyond 50 years to conceive through IVF, according to Dr Ssali.
Dr Herbert Kalema, a gynecologist and the in charge of Maternity Ward at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital, said by the time Namukwaya reported at the facility three weeks ago, she had abdominal pain, high blood pressure, difficulty in breathing and swollen legs.
“We very well knew her history and when the pregnancy reached eight months, we never wanted to take chances and that is why we opted for caesarean section. We thank God that all well went,”he said.
He said after the operation, Namukwaya became stable and started breast feeding her baby with ease. The baby weighed 2.6kg, which Dr Kalema said was normal.
“This is the fifth woman above the age of 50 to deliver from our facility and all have delivered by caesarean,” he said.
Dr Kalema said Namukwaya attended some of her antenatal clinics at Women’s Hospital International and Fertility Centre, but when the lockdown was declared, she shifted to Masaka Regional Referral Hospital.
Ms Namukwaya said she was excited about getting a baby at an advanced age after enduring several years of insults and ridicule from some women in her village.
“I really feel excited. It is unbelievable but I thank Allah that I have finally become a mother by His grace,” She said.
She said she had named the baby Sarah.
Mr Walusimbi said despite this long wait to get a baby, he never abandoned his wife.
“She has all these years been a good and hardworking woman and that is why I chose to stick with her,” he said.
Not first birth
In 2009, a 54-year-old lecturer also gave birth to bouncing baby boy at Women’s Hospital International and Fertility Centre, ten years after reaching menopause.
The IVF technology, referred to as test-tube babies, was introduced in Uganda in 2004. Since then, 20,000 babies have been born at the Bukoto-based centre through IVF.