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Surge to India for a baby

Aspiring mothers from abroad are coming to the country in search of donor eggs, reports Navneeta.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 11, 2006 20:15 IST

"If you are a young fertile woman, who wants to go through IVF but cannot afford the treatment, you can consider donating your eggs and registering for free treatment," goes an advertisement of an In-Vitro Fertilisation(IVF) treatment clinic.

Fertility clinics in India are facing a new crunch—egg donors.

Besides a rise in Indian childless couples going in for artificial reproduction techniques, there is a surge of aspiring mothers from foreign lands visiting the country in search of donor eggs.

Patients are coming from UK, USA, Russia, Canada and several other countries as IVF clinics all over the world are facingdifficulties to meet the demand of egg recipients, Indian IVF specialists say.

What is IVF?
 

First developed by Patrick C Steptoe and Robert G Edwards of Great Britain, In-Vitro Fertilisation(IVF) was devised for use in cases of infertility when the woman's fallopian tubes are damaged or the man's sperm count is low. The baby born through IVF is called test tube baby.

 
First Test Tube baby
 

The first test tube baby, Louise Brown, was born on July 25, 1978 amid intense controversy over the safety and morality of the procedure.

 
Over 50,000 babies so far
 The use of IVF has resulted in the birth of more than 500,000 babies across the globe. 
India's first Test Tube baby
 Harsha, the first test tube baby in India, was born under the supervision of Mumbai-based doctor Indira Hinduja on August 6, 1986. 

"Infertile couples often fly down to our clinic from the US and UK for IVF treatment, because we are much more cost-effective and provide high quality medical care and excellent personalised services. Many of them also need donor egg treatment," says Dr Aniruddha Malpani of the renowned Mumbai-based Malpani Infertility Clinic.

The egg demand is so high among foreign patients that sometimes they prefer waiting for the suitable egg donor for months, or for over a year.

As Dr Malpani says, "Two to three foreigners visit us every month, who are keen on a particular kind of donor. They don't mind waiting for months for the right kind of donors."

In most of the cases, where patients from other countries have to wait, they fix the treatment by emails, "so that they need to come to India only when the donor is ready."

With a higher rate of success and a low cost of treatment, India is turning into a hot destination for infertile couples.

An in-vitro fertilisation cycle in the US costs around $20,000(approx Rs 9,00,000)as opposed to $2,000(approx Rs 90,000)odd in India. In UK clinics, a cycle of treatment costs up to a whopping £3,500(approx Rs 2,80,000).

"Many foreigners visit Indian fertility clinics after being totally exhausted financially," Dr Anoop Gupta of Delhi IVF research centre says adding, "The cost factor plays a major role."

"If at $2,000 (in India) patients are getting the same treatment with high success rate, then they will obviously prefer coming here," says Dr Gupta.

To meet this "egg donor crunch", IVF clinics in India are coming out with various options like egg-sharing and egg donation.