Goregaon resident Pravin Shah (name changed, 52) was ecstatic when his wife Reema (48) got pregnant for the first time after 28 years of marriage. When she delivered twin girls in January, the family elders said they had been doubly blessed.
The couple smiled, knowing their secret was safe. Even though Reema carried the babies, they are not genetically theirs. They had adopted the embryos from the Malpani Infertility Clinic in Colaba.
The clinic has more than 1,000 embryos, frozen at minus 196 degrees. These embryos are either donated by couples after successfully having a child through in-vitro fertilisation or created in a petri-dish using eggs and sperms from young donors. They are thawed and implanted into the woman’s uterus.
“We were desperate to have children and had been through eight cycles of in-vitro fertilisation. Our dream of becoming parents has finally come true. People take donated blood or kidneys. We took embryos. We don’t even feel that the babies are not ours,” said Shah.
The Shahs are not alone. A growing number of infertile couples in the city are becoming parents thanks to embryo adoption. At least four couples, mostly aged 40 to 50 years, adopt embryos at Malpani clinic every month as opposed to one per month till two years ago.
Dr Hrishikesh Pai, who is attached to Lilavati Hospital, does five to 10 embryo transfers every month.
The long-waiting period and legal hassles in adopting babies has also led to a rise in demand for embryos. Indian couples prefer the method because no one knows the babies are not theirs.
Besides, many women like to experience pregnancy, the baby kicks et al. “She latched on to me within an hour after the delivery. Breast-feeding made me feel like a complete mommy,” said an American woman, who had adopted an Indian embryo last year.