After 20 years of trying to conceive, a 52-year-old Zimbabwean woman gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Esther.

The joy was “indescribable” for Eleanor Mukura and Alex Dandadzi when Mukura gave birth at Netcare Pretoria East Hospital, after undergoing a number of fertility treatments at the Pretoria Fertility Centre based at the hospital.

Mukura described her pregnancy as difficult given her late age.

“I had high blood pressure and had to take maternity leave six weeks before my due date.” This required me to go to South Africa from Zimbabwe, where I live and work. “I also experienced renal issues, which required me to stay in the hospital for far longer than would normally be the case,” she explained.

The couple, who live in Harare, travelled to South Africa where the next chapters of their story began to unfold.

Mukura underwent a third surgery to remove the fibroids and then began her journey with in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Dr Marienus Trouw, a gynaecologist sub-specialist in reproductive medicine, who practises at Netcare Pretoria East Hospital, explained that IVF involved hormonal injections to encourage a woman to produce more than one egg these eggs are then retrieved from the uterus and fertilised in a laboratory to create embryos.

They are then allowed to grow for around five days before being placed back into the uterus.

“The first procedure was unsuccessful and the doctor who treated me passed away before we could try again. After some time we were referred to Dr Trouw, however, by this stage the fibroids had once more grown back, so I then had to undergo my fourth fibroid removal before we could continue with IVF treatment,” says Mukura.

“This time it was a success and we were filled with an incredible sense of hope. However, no sooner had I reached the end of the first trimester when devastatingly, I had a miscarriage. We had come so far and decided to keep on trying. The following two attempts resulted in failure. It was only some years later, on our fifth and final IVF attempt that I finally fell pregnant with our baby girl who is now here with us.”

Mukura and Dandadzi’s 20-year journey to this point involved four fibroid removal operations for Mukura, five rounds of IVF and one miscarriage, not to mention the many emotional ups and downs along the way.

But Mukura says every single step has been worth it.

“The result is our beautiful baby who we have called Esther, a biblical name which carries the meaning of a star and a woman of courage. Her Shona name is Nyashadzashe, which means grace from God. We had almost given up on having a baby of our own but by God’s grace, when we least expected it at our older age, it happened,” Mukura says.