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60-year-old Japan’s woman gets pregnant with donated embryo

A 60-year-old woman impregnated in the United States via in-vitro fertilization will become what is believed to be the oldest single mother in Japan to give birth from a donated egg, medical officials say.

The woman, whose name is being withheld by officials because of privacy concerns, recently found an obstetrician willing to handle her case 15 weeks into her pregnancy after being rejected by other clinics, her doctor said Wednesday.

Surrogate births and artificial insemination are extremely rare in Japan because of ethical concerns in the tradition-bound medical profession, a lack of donors and dearth of doctors willing to provide such treatments.

Though there is no law banning single women from having the procedures, births from donated eggs are strictly limited to married couples, prompting many women and couples to seek the treatments in the U.S. and other countries.

The woman's doctor expressed such concerns in talking to reporters earlier this week in Japan, where single motherhood is exceedingly rare.

"Considering that she's 60 years of age and single, which means high risk and an uncertain future for a child, I had to make a tough difficult decision about whether to handle the pregnancy," said Yahiro Netsu, gynecologist at Suwa Maternity Clinic in Nagano, central Japan.

Kyodo News agency reported that the woman would become the oldest single woman to give birth from donated eggs.

But an official at Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology said it was difficult to confirm that because such procedures are rare and not regulated by the government, and could possibly occur without being reported.

The oldest known pregnancy case in Japan involved a 60-year-old married woman who gave birth in 2001 after in vitro fertilization using a donated egg in the U.S. and her husband's sperm, the Yomiuri newspaper reported Thursday.

The obstetrics and gynecology society official, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing sensitivity of the topic, said that the case highlighted a need for Japan to establish a law regulating such procedures.

The oldest woman in the world to give birth is believed to be a Romanian who had a daughter in January 2005 at age 66. Last year, a 63-year-old woman gave birth to a baby boy by Caesarean section in Britain.

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