Friday 27 November 2009

IN THE PRESS: Time for the brown baby boom (Hindustan Times)

This article was posted in the middle of this year. It does highlight a point of difference between clinics. In my experience, most IP's want to see what their prospective ED looks like.

Time for the brown baby boom (Hindustan Times)
Sanchita Sharma,

New Delhi, July 21, 2009

On a hot summer’s day in the tony south Delhi neighbourhood of Greater Kailash-I, Norwegians Freya Reintoff* and her husband Arian Rakke* carefully sifted through dozens of pictures of Indian women.
Reintoff (36) and Rakke (37) looked for “a happy, open face”, characteristics they hope will help them in their search for a healthier, more intelligent baby.
The couple live in the town of Holmestrand (population: less than 10,000) on the east coast of Norway, and are one of many Caucasians making the long trip to India to treat infertility by opting for donor eggs from ethnic Indian women.
Here’s why: multiracial babies are perceived to be healthier and more intelligent.
“We researched on the Internet and chose an Indian donor because it does not really matter to us whether the baby looks like us or not,” said Reintoff, an English teacher who has barely managed to get over the cultural shock of her first visit to India. “What’s important is that the baby is healthy.”
Reintoff — a blue-eyed, blonde — said she wasn’t looking for a designer baby, just a smart, happy one.
“India is very different but the people are beautiful and the food is great,” said Rakke.
Egg donation is an infertility treatment in which eggs taken from a donor with her consent are fertilised with sperm from the husband. The embryo thus created is implanted into the womb of the childless woman. A legal agreement is signed; the donor’s identity is protected and the donor gives up all rights to the baby.
Each month, four to five such couples looking for Indian donor eggs visit Dr Shivani Sachdev, infertility expert at Phoenix Hospital, where Reintoff and Rakke went.
Medical tourism companies confirm the number of Caucasians getting treated for infertility in India has shot up over the past year.
“People travelling from the US, Canada and Europe have doubled over the past year,” said Kaushik Shukla, COO of We Care, a Mumbai-based medical tourism and treatment-packaging company that offers IVF, egg donor, surrogacy and infertility treatment solutions.
“We have tied up with clinics in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai where we send them for treatment.”
The perception is that multiracial children are healthier and brighter, said Dr Sachdev.
“I am currently using Indian donor eggs to treat four Caucasian couples — two British, one American and one German,” she said. “The American couple chose a girl who looked very ethnically Indian, and another Norwegian couple were here today looking for Indian donors.”
Not all Caucasians, however, want Indian donors.
Elizabeth Burns*, 50, a Canadian married to an Indian in Kolkata, wants a Caucasian donor who resembles her.
“I always thought race didn’t matter but when I got down to actual decision-making, very strong instincts kicked in,” said Burns. “I wanted to choose a donor who looked like me and the women in my family. Since Caucasian donors are limited here, I’ll choose a donor over the Internet and have the egg shipped to India.”
“Apart from similar genetic backgrounds, I am going to consider the health, educational and height of the donor,” said Burns.
Under India’s National Guidelines for Accreditation, Supervision & Regulation of ART Clinics in India, anonymous donation is allowed from donors who are “healthy (medical and psychological examination, screening for STDs, and absence of HIV antibodies) women in the age group of 18-35 years”.
Unlike Sachdev, Dr Hrishikesh Pai, infertility expert with Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital and Fortis La Femme in Delhi, does not show photographs of donors to recipients. Instead, he provides a detailed description of the donors, including colour of the eyes, hair and skin. “People don’t care so much about looks as 50 per cent of the genetic matter is the husband’s,” said Dr Pai.

* The names of the patients and the donor have been changed to protect their identity.

Monday 23 November 2009

IN THE PRESS: Recession brings a boom in fertility biz

This is an article that was published last year,in The Mail Today Newspaper, that shows a new trend in third party ART

Economic slide fuels fertility biz boom
New Delhi December 24, 2008

Last year’s sealing drive took away her husband’s catering unit. This October, recession cost Anita her retail job.

Christmas, though, may finally bring some cheer — and money — to this 26- yearold retail management postgraduate.

No, she hasn't found another job. But she will raise money by renting out her womb to an American woman who is flying in to India to start the procedure next week.

"I have an MBA degree and have done several computer courses. But I didn’t look for another job after losing the one that I had. The job market is just too tight," Anita says.

Easy money in hard times: Educated and middle-class women affected by meltdown are turning surrogates or egg donors
The mother of a two- year- old hopes to be pregnant by January 2009. She'll be paid Rs 2.75 lakh, along with all expenses incurred on groceries and medicines, for the next nine months.

"If she hadn’t lost her job, she wouldn’t have bothered to do this. You don’t generally get such well- educated surrogates or donors, unless they are from the paramedic profession," says Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour, a fertility expert at Phoenix Hospital, Greater Kailash- I, where Anita will undergo the procedure.

It's win- win for Gour's American patient as well. She'd have had to shell out $40,000-50,000 (Rs 20-25 lakh) to a surrogate in the US. The recession is fuelling a baby harvest. It's evident from a visit to the Delhi In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and Fertility Research Centre at Bengali Market.

Reeta, a software engineer, has taken time off from her IT firm in Gurgaon to donate eggs to an infertile couple being treated at the centre. She decided to do this after her husband, a software engineer in the US, returned to India after being laid off.

Reeta's eggs go for a premium, thanks to her high IQ profile, and she makes Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 each time. "My husband is trying to raise money to open his own software training institute. I want to help him, as well as help infertile couples have babies," she says.

Confirming the trend, Dr Anoop Gupta, Delhi IVF's infertility specialist, says: "In the last two months, we have had seven or eight couples walking in with prospective egg donors and surrogates who are all white-collared workers affected by the economic crisis. People facing recession know about this opportunity that will help them and also assist infertile couples." In Gujarat's Anand — India's surrogacy capital — Kaival Hospital's infertility specialist Nayna H. Patel says the number of educated and middle-class surrogates and donors from towns such as Vadodara has shot up by 15-20 per cent.

"Many of these women come after losing money in the share market or after either they themselves or their husbands lose their job," Patel adds.

One of the surrogates under her care is a 26-year-old woman who has an LLB and a BCom degree. The woman turned to surrogacy after her husband was rendered jobless because of the economic downturn.

For Mayur Vihar housewifeturned- tutor Mandakini, becoming an egg donor came as an alternative to suicide, which she was contemplating after her husband, a sound engineer, lost his Rs 40,000-a-month job.

"We moved from a two-bedroom home to a one-room set with a kitchen," Mandakini recalls. "My son’s marks fell from 96 per cent to 64 per cent because we couldn't afford his tuitions any more. We didn't have the money to pay his school fees. I had gone to a chemist to buy poison, but didn't know what to get. That's when I saw an ad for a donor in a women’s magazine." Egg donation is a long- drawn process, involving 9-10 days of injections, and the subsequent removal of eggs under general anaesthesia. Specialists say the procedure is safe.

"There are no cuts and the entire procedure is done with the help of a needle guided by ultrasound," assures Dr Deeksha' assists Dr Gupta of Delhi IVF. Unmarried women are turned away from donation, for it leads to the tearing of the hymen during the medical examination, which isn’t held in a good light in many traditional homes.

Dr Gupta recently refused an infertile couple who came with a prospective donor — a laid-off airhostess — because she was unmarried. "We take women who are married and have already had a child. They prove to be fertile," he says.

In some states in the US, even college students donate eggs to pay their tuition fees. "Depending student could receive anything between $5,000 (Rs 2.4 lakh) and $30,000 (Rs 14.5 lakh)," says Dr Sulochana Gunasheela, who runs her own IVF centre in Bangalore.

"Models and women with high IQ invite online bids for their gametes." All this may seem somewhat futuristic, but the way urban India is moving, are we likely to see educated middle-class women catching up with their US counterparts? "If not now, possibly some time in the foreseeable future," says Dr Gunasheela.

(Names of all donors and surrogates have been changed)
Courtesy: Mail Today
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@ Copyright 2009 India Today Group.

Friday 20 November 2009

IN THE PRESS: Nav Bharat Times (Hindi chapter of The Times of India)

I have been quoted in Nav Bharat Times (Hindi chapter of The Times of India)few days ago.

On the front page of the Nav Bharat Times, this article talks about the trend couples working especially in the BPO sector . Time schedules are odd -- one partner may work on American schedule and the other on Indian time schedule and couples dont get to see/ meet each other . The title is "Want to be a Mummy and a Daddy but no time for love!"

The second article talks about contraceptive options available to women today, this featured in Sunday Navbahrat Times last week -- my name is on top of panel of experts

Sunday 15 November 2009

IN THE PRESS: Giving Birth Painlessly - The Times of India (Sunday Edition)

This article featured recently in the Sunday Edition of Times of India – one of the mostly widely read papers in India.
In this article, the focus is on different options available to women now a days in India for pain relief in labour

Thursday 12 November 2009

An interest in both Research and Clinical practice

I have always known that i would practice in the area of infertility as a Medical Practitioner. But what people may not be aware of is my interest in both research and clinical practice. It is my belief that you need both to inform what we do as doctor’s, so that we can provide the best evidence base practice to you, our clients.
People may be interested in an early journal article that i co-wrote in 2003 regarding the Therapeutic Practice of Donor Insemination in Male Infertility.
If anyone would like a copy of the article, please email me.

Saturday 7 November 2009

An Egg Donor's experience of India

A man once said that we need to be the change we want to see in the world. I suppose that not all donors share the same reason for donating but because we are one fruit, from one tree, there is, most certainly a common thread in our purpose.
This line of thinking was strengthened by my most recent adventure. Exploring India with some of the most wonderful women ever, gave me back pieces of me I thought I had lost. These women, these amazing and extraordinary women who are selfless and kind and who think of others- they became my friends and together we took our journey.

Our journey took us all the way from South Africa to India and I think the experience all in all was exciting and frightening at the same time. I was nervous about the clinic and the doctors but as soon as I met Dr Shivani, I knew we were all in good hands. She is such a great doctor who took such care with us, knowing that we were far from home. The clinic is lovely and the staff is accommodating and hospitable. Sharing this experience with others was absolutely amazing as we donors do not often get to interact. I think we all played a large part in each other’s donations and I am so thankful I had so much support and love.

Delhi itself is amazing and although Agra is very dirty and poverty stricken, it was thought provoking and spiritual. Standing in front of the Taj Mahal and in the great hall of the Lotus Temple, I was filled with such intense feelings- spiritual and reflective. My couple and all that I hoped for them, featured predominantly in my mind.

Being a donor is not a simple task but it is one that is more fulfilling and more enriching that any experience on earth. Knowing that you are contributing towards bringing new life into this world and making someone’s dreams come true is phenomenal and gratifying and I hope that more women will consider doing this. It is life changing and miraculous and once you have experienced something like this; you simply don’t want to stop. I know, I don’t. I want to be the change I see in the world.

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