Anatolia Vertadella, an 101-year old woman from Napoli, Italy, has given birth to a healthy baby boy after a controversial ovary transplant procedure. The procedure drew a lot of heat from medical experts due to Anatolia’s age – it was illegal, but still done in a private clinic in Turkey where the European laws on ovary transplants do not apply.

“I am very grateful to all the team of doctors who decided to go on with the operation.” Anatolia admits in tears. “I am so grateful to have given birth to my 17th child. This is a true blessing and a testament to the power of the creator,” she told a local news station. “For so long I have felt useless to God, I could not procreate since I turned 48 years old when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. For a long time, I believed God was punishing me for only bearing 16 children, but in his godly generosity, he has granted me with fertility once again,” she says.

According to Dr. Popolicchi, the final decision on the illegal procedure was left to the patient. “Who am I to judge if it is the proper thing to do? She has given birth to a beautiful baby and this miraculous birth is definitely a gift from God!” he said. “The operation was completely legal in Turkey and undertaken by a handful of expert surgeons. The lady is in great health for her age and I predict she has still a many good years in front of her to share with her child. So many children are born in this world unwanted or by accident. Is it not a beautiful thing to know this child comes to life in a loving home?” says Dr. Popolicchi.

Anatolia’s husband died in 1998 – the baby was conceived with sperm from an anonymous donor. She found the father of the baby online: “I met Francesco’s father on the internet while trying to find a father to my child. This 26-year-old man is a Catholic and that is all that is important to me. I wanted my child to be born in a union sanctified by the Catholic church. I know we are not married and that he will not play a part in Francesco’s life, but I have written to the pope to ask his absolution. I have also named my child after the pope in his honor and so I believe he should find a place in his heart to forgive me in this particular situation. I still love my deceased husband and desire to stay a widow until I leave this earth, but I needed the seed of this young fervent Catholic to fulfill God’s will,” Anatolia says.

Even at the age of 101, Anatolia is not the world’s oldest mother – this title belongs to Malegwale Ramokgopa, a South African woman who allegedly gave birth to twins 3 days after her 92nd anniversary in 1931!