A 70-Year-Old Ugandan Woman Just Gave Birth To Twins — Thanks To In-Vitro Fertilization

Published December 8, 2023

Safina Namukwaya became one of the oldest women ever to give birth after she was "mocked" for being childless.

Safina Namukwaya

WHI&FCSafina Namukwaya, the 70-year-old woman who just gave birth to twins.

Following IVF treatment, 70-year-old Safina Namukwaya gave birth to twins — a boy and a girl — at a fertility center in the Ugandan capital of Kampala.

Per the BBC, Namukwaya, one of the oldest women to ever give birth, called her situation a “miracle.”

According to Dr. Edward Tamale Sali, a fertility specialist at the Women’s Hospital International and Fertility Centre, Namukwaya used a donor egg and her then-partner’s sperm for the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure. Unfortunately, Namukwaya’s partner was not there to witness the twins’ birth.

“Men don’t like to be told that you are carrying more than one child,” Namukwaya told NTV, a local news station. “Ever since I was admitted here, my man has never showed up.”

Being abandoned by her partner certainly made the situation all the more difficult, but after the successful delivery of the twins, via cesarean, the hospital touted it as more than a “medical success; it’s about the strength and resilience of the human spirit.”

The twins were born prematurely at 31 weeks, but they were placed in incubators and, according to Dr. Sali, are in “stable” condition.

This also marks Namukwaya’s second delivery in three years, after she gave birth to a daughter in 2020. As she explained, the desire to have children at such a late stage in life came after she was mocked for being childless.

At one point, she said, a boy had called out to her that she had been “cursed” by her mother “to die without a child.” Before then, she had suffered a miscarriage and lost her husband in 1992.

“I looked after people’s children and saw them grow up and leave me alone,” she said. “I wondered who would take care of me when I grow old.”

This amazing success came at the time of the hospital’s 20th anniversary, prompting a celebratory post on their Facebook page:

“Celebrating our 20th anniversary, we’ve achieved the extraordinary — delivering twins to Africa’s oldest mother aged 70! This historic event, a baby boy and girl, not only marks our two decades of leadership in IVF, but also sets us apart as the premier fertility centre in Africa.”

Safina Namukwayas Twins

WHI&FCNamukwaya’s twins being looked after in their incubator.

On average, women go through menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, after which they generally see a sharp decline in fertility. Techniques like IVF make it possible to have children later in life.

Of course, there is also the question of whether Namukwaya’s age might affect her ability to care for her children.

A pregnancy at such an advanced age can also come with its own set of problems, both in terms of complications for the children, and for the mother. Namukwaya told her interviewer that she had been “very sick” from the double pregnancy, and that she had spent nearly all of her savings on healthcare costs.

When asked about her readiness to care for her children, Namukwaya said, “I really don’t know. God is in charge. You see, you can have one child and feel overwhelmed, but here I am with twins at a time I am weak, a time I am unable to go to my garden to grow food for sale. I don’t know, but they say every child comes with their blessings.”

After reading about this amazing medical feat, read about the Brazilian woman who gave birth to twins — with two different biological fathers. Or, read the story of Mary Toft, the woman who gave birth to bunnies and fooled all of England.

Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
Maggie Donahue
Maggie Donahue is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. She has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and film studies from Johns Hopkins University. Before landing at ATI, she covered arts and culture at The A.V. Club and Colorado Public Radio and also wrote for Longreads. She is interested in stories about scientific discoveries, pop culture, the weird corners of history, unexplained phenomena, nature, and the outdoors.
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Harvey, Austin. "A 70-Year-Old Ugandan Woman Just Gave Birth To Twins — Thanks To In-Vitro Fertilization." AllThatsInteresting.com, December 8, 2023, https://allthatsinteresting.com/safina-namukwaya. Accessed June 19, 2024.