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60-year-old parents ‘always felt lonely’

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CALGARY—In the 20 years Jagir and Ranjit Hayer have lived in Calgary, one thing has always been missing from their home.

The sound of their children’s footsteps.

But that changed last Tuesday when Ranjit, 60, gave birth to twin boys.

Using nephew Tony Hayer as a translator, dad Jagir Hayer, 60, said the family now is making plans to welcome relatives from around the globe to meet his sons.

“They’re coming from a lot of places,” he said. “Places like Prince Rupert, Vancouver, Abbotsford, and Birmingham, England.

“It will be a continuous celebration over a period of days.”

The couple tried for 43 years to get pregnant, and now that he’s finally a father, Jagir said words can’t express his happiness.

“They always mentioned, the two of them living in the house for such a long time, they always felt lonely and they wanted kids of their own,” said Tony.

Although the twins are small, both are healthy, as is their mother.

“One is 3.5 [pounds] and one is slightly over three [pounds],” said Tony.

“It could be anywhere from four to six weeks before they’re healthy enough to come home,” he added.

The twins, Mangot and Gurpreet, were born by C-section seven weeks early at Calgary’s Foothills Hospital.

The fact the Hayers are both 60 has sparked an international debate about whether that’s too old to start a family. It also has raised questions about the ethics surrounding in vitro fertilization, but the nephew said the family isn’t concerning itself with what other people think.

“They’re saying better late than never,” he said. “To them, it’s just a joyous occasion. The age is something people are starting to talk about but [Ranjit] said it was fine during the pregnancy.”

He said the new parents aren’t that bothered by what people are saying because “the results were good for them.”

The couple had been trying to get pregnant for the last 43 years, he said, and used in vitro fertilization several times without success.

Ranjit Hayer also had three miscarriages during that time and underwent surgery in Canada.

The latest attempt to implant fertilized donor eggs into her womb was performed at a clinic in India. Canadian fertility doctors had turned the couple down due to their age.

Tony Hayer said it’s important to know that family is a huge part of Punjabi culture.

“Traditionally, when you get married in India, the custom is to have a family with children. They’ve always had close relatives, but other than that, they’ve always lived by themselves. . . . They would see the families and always felt left out.

“Out of a lot of relatives, they were the only ones married but without children.”

The story was the watercooler topic of the day Friday throughout Alberta.

Calgarian Karen Smith, calling herself a “concerned taxpayer,” suggested any health bills for the mother and children should not be covered by public money.

“If that’s her choice, she should foot the bill for the medical care,” Smith told CTV News. “It’s a tremendous cost to the health-care system, which does concern me because it’s so overloaded now anyway.”

But Alberta Health minister Ron Liepert said he didn’t have a problem with how things played out.

“Every Albertan has the right to access our publicly-funded health-care system for medically-necessary health care,” he said.

“If you can show me where that did not occur, then I think you have a question to ask. If you can’t show me that, then I stand by what I said.”

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