As India’s popularity in the global infertility treatment market rises and awareness within the country grows about the options available for infertile couples, more and more women in need of money are looking at egg donations and surrogacy as a way to make a quick buck, little realising the health risks they may be exposing themselves to.
With infertility clinics in the city doing brisk business, many young women in Mumbai are donating their eggs. Women can suffer from the Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), which is a result of the hormonal injections responsible for stimulating egg production, said doctors. While the OHSS can lead to abdominal bloating, mild abdominal pain and weight gain, there is a 0.2% to 0.5 % risk to the donor’s life, said doctors.
In rare cases, OHSS can lead to life-threatening complications, such as blood clots and kidney failure. “Other complications such as accumulation of peritoneal [fluid in lining of the abdominal cavity] entering the lungs and abdomen could lead to death if not treated on time,” said Dr Anjali Malpani, owner of Malpani infertility clinic in Colaba.
Earlier this month, the Bombay high court pulled up the city police for not probing the role of a fertility clinic in the conditions that led to the death of 17-year-old Sushma Pandey. She is said to have died two days after donating eggs at Rotunda clinic in Bandra. Pandey died on August 10, 2010, after complaining of severe abdominal pain. Her postmortem report revealed that she had contusions in her head (injury in which the skin is not broken) and blood clot. According to the guidelines stipulated by the Indian Council of Medical Research, a donor should be more than 21 years of age.
Before donating her eggs, a woman has to take hormonal injections starting from day one of her menstrual cycle for 10 to 15 days to increase ovulation. Apart from this, she has to undergo four to five ultrasound procedures during the period so that the doctor can monitor the growth and size of the eggs. Once they reach the optimum stage, the woman is injected with another hormone, within 36 hours of which the doctors retrieve the eggs through an ultrasound-guided vaginal procedure conducted under general anaesthesia.