This is very troubling and why the ASRM guidelines tshould be universally adopted and stringently enforced:
Skin-tight jeans or multicoloured bangles are not the latest fad among college going girls in Delhi. Instead, “they are selling their eggs” to make a quick buck. What is more shocking is high school students are also joining the bandwagon oblivious to the risks they are exposed to. The fact that the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2010 governing the procedure is yet to be passed allows the trade to continue untouched. Human eggs or oocytes are much in demand with a growing number of couples looking to fertility clinics to have babies.
Sources at in vitro fertilisation (IVF) centres in the Capital said several egg donors were as young as 18. With fertility clinics charging childless couples Rs.1.5-2.5 lakh to provide the eggs, donors can earn anywhere between Rs.25,000 and Rs.75,000. The rates are higher if one is looking for a made-to-order baby with the ‘right’ combination of beauty and brains.
“Egg donation has picked up like never before and there is no dearth of young women willing to donate,” fertility specialist Dr Rita said. School- going children have been reported to donate eggs not only once but several times. “This is the second time I am donating eggs. I am a student and this helps me make good money,” a Class XII student said.
“I have travelled a long distance to come here and sell my eggs,” said another school-goer. Girls fall back upon the feel good factor associated with egg donation. “If I can help people, why not?” one of the girls said.
Fertility clinics get 10- 15 requests for eggs almost every day. This increases the pressure on the clinics to find more donors. The demand is higher for fairskinned donors. This reporter visited some fertility clinics posing as an unmarried woman wanting to donate eggs for a friend. In most cases, she was not even warned of the possible dangers involved in the procedure.
Oocyte donation is an intrusive procedure. A fertility hormone is injected into the donor to increase the production of eggs. “This triggers nausea, giddiness and headaches which last a couple of days after the procedure,” said a senior gynaecologist. “Regular oocyte donation puts the donor at risk. Since the ovaries are overstimulated with drugs, there is a danger of developing hyper- ovarian syndrome. This can lead to complications,” she said.
Recipients are also vulnerable. However, desperation for a child leaves couples directionless. They are often misled. Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) deputy director- general Dr R. S. Sharma said: “The patient does not know what to do. At times, they do not need the kind of treatment being suggested and they are not even told about adoption as an alternative.” There are no laws to regulate these clinics.
“The guidelines issued by the ICMR are blatantly violated. There is a pressing need for the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2010 to be passed,” he said. The Bill says the donor should be between 21 and 35 years of age and should not donate more than six times in her lifetime. IVF and surrogacy experts such as Dr Shivani Gaur favour a law to regulate the practice. “A law is a must to make the process governed by legality,” she said.
In India, the baby making business is booming. A new law is being formulated to tackle the commercialisation of this process. But it will be some time before it is implemented.
It bears noting that the United States also has no laws regulating egg donation. While the American Society of Reproductive Medicine has guidelines, they are voluntary and there is little real consequence for agencies or medical providers that disregard these rules. Unfortunately, I am all too aware of agencies that routinely work with women 18-20 years of age or ignore the guideline about donors not donating more than six times. Unless and until these guidelines are made mandatory with meaningful penalties attached, there will be little deterrent and these practices will continue in the United States and around the world to the harm of women who are ill-informed about the ramifications of their actions.