Thirteen years after she made headlines for giving birth at the age of 62, Bhavani Amma breathed her last at a private hospital in Wayanad district early on Monday morning.
Her perseverance at becoming a mother at that age was celebrated by people and the media alike. But sadly, Bhavani Amma will also be remembered for the tragedy that befell her, losing her two-year-old son in a tragic accident at home.
On Monday, the 76-year-old passed away due to age-related ailments, including diabetes, say reports. She had been living in an old age home in Kalpetta.
"This time her diabetes was high and she came to us with a gangrene foot. There was injury on her foot and it required to be amputated, but we took a call not to perform a surgery, since she wasn't healthy enough to undergo a surgery at this age," a doctor at the hospital told Asianet News.
Reports say that her body continues to be kept at the hospital mortuary, since her family members haven't claimed her body yet. If the family does not claim the body, then the inmates of the old age home where Bhavani Amma had been living for the past few years will conduct her last rites.
Who was Bhavani Amma?
Bhavani Amma was a retired school teacher from Ernakulam. According to a report published in Sify, Bhavani was married for 22 years but was unable to bear a child. Her first husband then passed away from cancer.
While she remarried, she was unable to have a child in her second marriage as well. Refusing to give up her dream of becoming a mother,
Bhavani Amma then convinced her second husband to re-marry. Although a child was born to him, Bhavani Amma was denied permission to meet the baby.
But the school teacher was not one to lose hope on becoming mother, taking to prayer and several medical treatments to bear a child.
Then in 2002, Bhavani Amma came across a news report about a 56-year-old woman who had given birth through Assisted Reproductive Technique (ART). She decided to approach Samad clinic in Thiruvananthapuram.
Two years later, in May 2004, a beaming Bhavani Amma addressed press persons in Thiruvananthapuram, along with the doctors of Samad IVF Hospital.
She had fulfilled her dream of becoming a mother, despite reaching menopause. Bhavani Amma had given birth to a baby boy through In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and embryo transfer (ET) method. She was perhaps the third oldest woman the world to have given birth to a baby at this age, the doctors at the clinic had then said.
Through all this, Bhavani Amma smiled, sharing her joy at holding her baby in her arms.
The Hindu reported in 2004:
"A combination of IVF and embryo donation techniques was used to help the woman conceive. The sperm was taken from the sperm bank at the clinic, while for the ovum, an advertisement was placed seeking donors. The cost of the procedure was a little over Rs. 1 lakh. The process involved fertilising the donor ovum with the sperm in a laboratory dish, and then transferring the embryo into the appropriately readied uterus of the woman. Pregnancy test was done 12 days after implanting the embryo in the uterus and the procedure was successful in the case of Ms. Bhavani, in the first attempt itself."
Kannan's tragic end
A strong devotee of Lord Guruvayoorappan, Bhavani Amma named her child Kannan, after the deity she worships, recounts Shobha Warrier in a blog post published on Rediff.com in 2006.
But less than two years later, tragedy struck Bhavani Amma. In February 2004, Kannan drowned to death in a vessel filled with water at the premises of his house.
Despite losing her son, Bhavani still clung to her desire of experiencing motherhood. In an interview to Sify in 2008, Bhavani said, "With everybody’s prayer around me, I know, God will let me conceive once again."
Her dream of becoming a mother again was, however, never realised.
Bhavani Amma moved to Wayanad district, choosing to spend her last years in an old age home, even as she continued to teach school children.