black pregnant woman holding belly

Woman with rare medical condition gives birth to 44 kids by age 40

When you hear the words “large family”, how many children do you imagine? Four? Six? Ten? Well, for Mariam Nabatanzi, large equals 44 children. You read that correctly. She did not set out to have so many children, however, she suffers from a rare medical condition that meant she had several rounds of multiples. This is her story.

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Woman With Rare Medical Condition Has 44 Children

Mariam Nabatanzi’s life is an unfortunately tragic tale. Born in Uganda, just three days after her birth, her mother abandoned the family. When she was still quite young, her stepmother mixed broken glass into her siblings’ food, effectively murdering all of them. Mariam was spared only because she was away visiting a relative at the time. (1)

When Mariam was 12, her parents sold her into marriage. One year later, she gave birth to a set of twins. She then proceeded to have three more sets of twins, five sets of triplets, and five sets of quadruplets. All told, she has 44 children – only one of which was a single birth. Her husband, who spent much time away, also abandoned the family. He ran off with all of their savings.

You may be wondering, however, how it is possible that one woman had so many children. Keeping in mind that each one was conceived completely naturally – no IVF or other medical interventions took place. This is because Mariam has an incredibly rare medical condition called hyperovulation.

Read: 60-Year-Old Woman Gives Birth to Her First Child, Husband Dumps Her Right on the Same Day

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What Is Hyperovulation?

Hyperovulation is when the ovaries release more than one egg at the same time and, of course, each egg gets fertilized. In Mariam’s case, she is genetically predisposed to it. Her doctors told her it is because she has unusually large ovaries. (2)

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“Her case is a genetic predisposition to hyper-ovulate — releasing multiple eggs in one cycle – which significantly increases the chances of having multiple births,” explained Dr. Charles Kiggundu, a gynecologist at Mulago Hospital in Kampala.

Mariam says that her doctors told her that if she stopped giving birth, she could actually have medical problems. By the time she was 23, she already had 25 children. She said she begged the doctors to do something to stop her from having more. Again, the doctors told her that her ovary count was too high, so she needed to keep getting pregnant.

This is also known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, and it can be dangerous to a woman’s health without the pregnancy. There are treatments for it, but those are not typically available in Uganda. It can cause life-threatening blood clots, kidney failure, twisting of the ovary, and/or breathing problems. (3)

Finally, three years ago, as she neared the age of 40, her doctors advised her to stop having children. Mariam says the doctor did a procedure in which he told her he “cut her uterus from the inside”. Now, she is no longer able to give birth.

Read: Woman Stirs Debate on Social Media After Doctor Refuses to Sterilize Her

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Raising 44 Children

As you can imagine, raising 44 children has been incredibly difficult – especially as a single mother. Mariam works around the clock taking care of her children while also trying to make enough money simply to put food in their stomachs. 

She has done everything to make money for her family. This includes hairdressing, event decorating, collecting and selling scrap metal, brewing gin, and selling herbal medicine. All the money goes toward food, medical care, and school fees. She cooks 25kg of maize each day, with the rare treat of meat or fish.

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“I started taking on adult responsibilities at an early stage. I have not had joy, I think, since I was born,” she said. “I have grown up in tears, my man has passed me through a lot of suffering. All my time has been spent looking after my children and working to earn some money.”

Mariam is insistent that she will give her children a better life and a more loving home than she had. She also is insistent that all of her children will attend school. It is tough, however, as providing for all of them has become increasingly difficult. Her oldest son Ivan had to drop out of high school because the family ran out of money to afford his fees.

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“Mum is overwhelmed, the work is crushing her, we help where we can, like in cooking and washing, but she still carries the whole burden for the family. I feel for her,” he said.

Despite it all, she loves every single one of her children. She said she will never abandon them, no matter how hard it gets. Mariam says they are her children, each one is special to her, and she loves them with all of her heart.

“I can’t say they are nagging because they are my children. I can’t say I will abandon them because they are my children, and I love them.” 

Keep Reading: Mom-of-23 reveals she had 21 babies by surrogates within one year – and has 16 live-in nannies

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Sources

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  1. Woman with rare medical condition gives birth to 44 kids by age 40.” National Post. National Post Staff. June 25, 2022.
  2. What Is Hyperovulation? How a Multiple Pregnancy Happens Naturally.” FLO
  3. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.” Mayo Clinic
Julie Hambleton
Freelance Writer
Julie Hambleton has a BSc in Food and Nutrition from the Western University, Canada, is a former certified personal trainer and a competitive runner. Julie loves food, culture, and health, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others make positive changes and live healthier lives.
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