Kanupriya Agarwal, India’s first test-tube baby, is proud to be living proof of one of the greatest medical achievements in the world. But she doesn’t want to be treated like a trophy, and certainly won’t be the poster girl of the Indian In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) industry.
Kanupriya, who’ll turn 30 on October 3, has reasons to say that. After years of being a subject of ridicule, she and Dr Subhash Mukherjee — the doctor who brought her to this world — are set to get the official stamp. Although some international journals recognised her as India’s first test-tube baby, and the world’s second, it is only now that the Parliament is ready to ratify it through a bill soon.
“I certainly do not want to be a poster girl of the IVF industry, which undermined Dr Mukherjee’s achievement for 30 years,” says Kanupriya, breaking her silence for the first time. “I am not a trophy but I am proud to be the living example of work of a genius.” All these years she and her family silently fought on — unlike Dr Mukherjee who committed suicide in 1981 unable to convince the medical fraternity and the government about his achievement. An inquiry by the Bengal government rejected his claim, and he was even transferred. His death inspired a movie — Ek Doctor Ki Maut.
Kanupriya says her parents suffered humiliation as she was growing up in Kolkata, her birthplace. But they never passed it on to her. “My parents did a wonderful job of keeping all the pressure away and helping me grow as a mature, reasonable individual,” she says. “It was not easy for them… they were made to feel like accomplices of Dr Mukherjee in his misdeed. There were insinuations of the worst kind….”
An MBA from Symbiosis, Pune and working for a private firm, Kanupriya lives in Gurgaon. She says the recognition for Dr Mukherjee came as a relief to her parents. Looking at the brighter side, she says: “I feel truth has prevailed.”