Thirty years ago, two city gynaecologists made history when they delivered Mumbai’s first test tube baby. On Monday the duo – Dr Indira Hinduja and Dr Kusum Zaveri – assisted that baby, now a 29-year-old Harsha Shah, to give birth.
Shah gave birth to a boy after a caesarean section at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai. Shah, who was born with the aid of assisted reproduction technology on August 6, 1986 at KEM Hospital, had conceived naturally within months of her marriage.
A pioneer in assisted reproduction technology in the country, Dr Hinduja said Harsha’s delivery was significant and encouraging for couples looking to try in vitro fertilization (IVF) for conceiving. “Many couples are worried whether the baby born through IVF will be able to conceive naturally. Harsha’s baby is a proof that babies born through IVF are as normal as any other child,” said the doctor who runs a fertility clinic at a private hospital in Mahim.
Shah’s baby was born healthy, weighing 3.1 kilograms, and was delivered by the same team of medical professionals who delivered Harsha years ago.
Dr Hinduja started experiments in IVF in 1984 on animals at KEM Hospital in Parel. On December 2, 1985 , her team successfully transferred an embryo prepared in a petri-dish into Harsha’s mother’s womb, the first time in India where such an attempt was made. “Harsha’s mother, Maniben, had suffered from tuberculosis, which had permanently damaged her fallopian tubes. She was desperate to have a baby, and when we explained the new technique to her, she agreed to it immediately,” she said.
“We did the procedure and spent the next few days praying that it would be successful,” added Dr Zaveri.
The doctors were naturally thrilled at the medical implications of Harsha’s delivery, but for the new father, Divyapal Shah, his son’s birth was a natural fact. “We had planned this baby. We didn’t have any apprehensions about Harsha or the baby. We are a normal family and I am as happy as any father in the world would be,” said the businessman from Matunga.
For Dr Hinduja, Harsha’s birth will always be a special occasion, and the two share a special bond.“Coincidentally, Maniben’s pregnancy test came positive on my birthday. There was an international conference going on at KEM and a senior doctor interrupted it to announce the big news of the pregnancy,” she recalled. The doctor also blessed Shah at her wedding in May last year.