In the past 24 hours, medical titles in all international media have been dealing with the case of 65-year-old Annegret Raunigk, a Berlin teacher who, a few days ago, gave birth to quadruplets with IVF. A mother of 13 other children already (the oldest of whom is 44), Raunigk has 7 more grandchildren as she prepares to retire.
This is not the first time that the name Raunigk has dominated the medical headlines. Ten years ago, the 55-year-old teacher was back in the spotlight when she brought a baby girl to the world – whose today’s desire to “have a baby brother” led her mother to travel to Ukraine to undergo IVF with egg donation, since the legal framework governing the process in Germany does not allow this when the mother is at such an advanced age. It is worth noting that her doctor tried to persuade her to keep only two or three of the four embryos fertilized, but she refused. “It is true that I was not planning to have four children. But I usually act spontaneously and the kids help me stay young,” was her candid – and rather selfish – explanation for the decision she made.
Unofficially, Raunigk is the oldest mother of four in the world, to the dismay of RTL, which has reserved exclusive rights to the coverage of the story since its previous pregnancy. But the relevant “record” is rather a negative sign if one looks at the objective, biological ability of a woman to fulfill her maternal role at such an advanced age.
When Raunigk crosses the threshold of 70, her four children will start school…
In this reflection, but also in medical issues raised in such cases, legislation in most European countries responds by setting an age limit for IVF – in our country it is 50 years. The legislator also imposes restrictions on how many embryos can be transferred. In Greece, women over 40 can receive up to four embryos of their own eggs and up to two embryos if they come from egg donation. In other European countries, both the age and the number of embryos transferred are even stricter, to avoid multiple pregnancies and pregnancies at a very advanced age.