Lina Medina, youngest mother in history.
Lina Medina hadn’t turn 5 years old yet when the shamans in the small village where she lived, Antacancha 450 kms. east from Lima, capital of Peru, began to get alarmed. What was happening to that little girl whose belly kept growing and growing? While the child kept on cuddling her old worn out rag doll, one of the shamans fixed his eyes on the sky, established contact with the afterlife and, minutes after that the ineffable gods of the Andes spoke through his mouth: “Lina has a snake (parasite) on her belly – he mumbled- we must get it out” First action of the shaman was to update Tiburcio, the child’s father, on what was happening. Tiburcio gave permission to execute the exorcism and the girl was subject of the usual inca rites in the south american cordillera. None of these procedures worked. When finally there was nothing divine to do, Tiburcio carried her child on the back and walked for two days, through valleys and hills to the nearest town in search of a real doctor. As he got to the town of Pisco, 70 kms. away from Antacancha, Dr. Gerardo Lozada took charge of Lina’s preliminary tests. The size of her belly caught his attention immediately. “It might be a tumor” he speculated. But after evaluating one, two, three, ten… a hundred! times the 5 year old girl’s clinical tests with the scientific rigor demanded by the circumstances, he came to a conclusion that astonished himself as a doctor and a human being. “It’s not a tumor, it’s an eight month baby that she is carrying in her womb!!!” he yelled at the father, and immediately afterwards he called the police.
The agents locked Tiburcio in a cell under strict security measures. He was pointed as the main suspect of the rape and pregnancy of her 5 year old child. But a few days later they were forced to free him for lack of evidence. One of his nine children, a mentally disabled boy, took his place in the cell. The investigators couldn’t link him either to this horrifying case. In the meantime, Dr. Lozada took the little girl to Lima and installed her in a clinic while he sent an emissary to Antacancha to compile information about her. He found out that before she was 4 years old, Lina had already developed visibly her breasts, pubic hair and had her menstruation. “Her mother sent her to wash in the river when this happened” some relatives said. There was not much to do at that stage of pregnancy. So Dr. Lozada organized everything to perform the c-section in the clinic in which also took part Dr. Busalleu (surgeon) and Dr. Colretta (anesthetist). Finally, on May 14 1939 – Mother’s Day, by the way- a healthy and strong 2.7 kgs. 48 cms. height baby was born. He was named Gerardo after Dr. Lozada.
The news of the Peruvian 5 year old girl delivering a baby became immediately an event of world significance. It’s most moving details minimized for some days the relevance of preparations for World War II. In the meanwhile the children, mother and son, where spoiled at the clinic where they were took in for eleven months. Officers, artists, diplomats, merchants, politicians visited and filled both of them with presents. There, in Lima’s Maternity Clinic, Lina learned to read and write. According to news of the time, the girl a child herself as her own child, took away the toys from him. Many years later Dr. Juan Falen explained this fact to Reuters: “Precoucious puberty developed in Lina prematurely the sexual characteristics an the reproductive capacity, but mental and chronologically she’s still the same age. That’s why kids like her are often victims of sexual abuse.” The case of Lina Medina soon overflew the Peruvian media field and activated the appetite for money of some people far beyond the Andean frontier. Her family rejected juicy money offers from several countries interested in taking economic advantage of the sad event, among them, one for 4000 $ a month plus expenses if the girl traveled to New York for a year to be exhibited as freaks in the World Fair. There were also serious proposals, the family had already signed an agreement with the Seltzer Company to study the case when Oscar Benavides, president of Peru at the time, enacted a law on the tutelage of mother and son under the promise of a granted allowance for life for both. They never saw one penny.
Lina married at age 33 and had another son in 1972, now she lives with her husband in a very poor suburb in Lima. In the 80’s decade, local autorithies pulled down her house with bulldozers so they could build a highway and didn’t pay her a penny in compensation. Gerardo was raised in the belief that Lina was her sister until he found out the truth at the age of 10. He died in 1979 of a bone marrow disease that had nothing to do with the extraordinary circumstances of his birth. Harassed by the media, Lina grew up prudent and introverted. Her ostracism was consequence of a time when virginity was an important content of morals. They came to say Lina was another Virgin Mary who was conceived without original sin and in her small town Antacancha they still believe Gerardo was son of the God Sun. “In other century Lina would have been burnt or forced to become a saint, because as you see, in her own time she was this close to become a circus freak.” Says in his book psychologist Artidoro Caceres who discovered that Lina’s medical records and a thesis developed in 1942 on her exceptional case were missing.
70 years have passed and it’s still a mistery who is the father of Lina’s child. Statistically it’s an extremely rare case. She is 73 years old now and has only one ambition: that the government compensates her for the house they demolished. “It is not a favor, they owe me that” she said to the “El Pais” journal. And she became silent again.