Manohar, the seasoned 43-year-old watchman of Jamuna Sagar building in Colaba, thought he had seen courier delivery men of all kinds, till one arrived with — no letters, packages, or boxes — a canister.
<b1>From halfway around the world, Santosh Shukla (37) called his wife Madhu (both names changed) to check whether his sperm sample, dispatched from Ireland, had reached the Colaba clinic where Madhu would be going for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
With assisted births entering the next generation — where couples no longer need to be present — courier companies are literally playing the stork as they carry sperm and eggs across thousands of miles to IVF labs.
Till now, couples had to make numerous visits — even travel across countries — to these labs, since the success rate of IVF is still low.
Doctors too are surprised by the novelty of the service, which involves extremely delicate handling, since sperm and eggs are very fragile cells.
Though there is no Indian courier company in the fray, specialised companies across Europe and the UK have found India emerging as a major destination. The number of deliveries has been rising exponentially, said industry experts. From almost no deliveries two years ago, now there are about 150 sperm samples transported every year.
“India has become a major sperm delivery destination. We have pick-up centres across Europe and the US. Till date, all deliveries have been to Mumbai and Anand, in Gujarat,” said Kosta Kios, managing director, Kynisi Courier Systems Limited, London.
“With my business in the UK, it is not easy to visit India thrice a year, though we desperately want a child. This is the best solution for me,” said Shukla.
“We get at least a dozen patients at Jaslok every year who send their sperm, embryo or eggs through courier services. It is now accepted that one partner may miss out on a visit and send their gametes,” said IVF expert Firoza Parekh.