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Assisted Reproduction

Donor Dies In India Following Egg Retrieval

Sushma Pandey died at the age of 17 after having her eggs extracted in Mumbai.

Another tragic story out of India — this time involving a 23 year old egg donor who died after a retrieval. The initial post mortem report stated that Yuma Sherpa died of internal bleeding and had enlarged ovaries. Ms. Sherpa’s untimely death has triggered a call to regulate egg donation in India where donors routinely receive just a fraction of the compensation that their American counterparts obtain.

Sadly, this is not the first egg donor death in India. As we blogged about back in 2012, a 17 year old girl, Sushma Pandey, died after undergoing her 3rd egg retrieval. If the attempt to legislate surrogacy in India is any barometer, then I am not terribly optimistic that any safeguards for egg donors will be implemented anytime soon. Here is more on the untimely death of Ms. Sherpa:

Bollywood film ‘Vicky Donor’ may have popularized sperm donation, but did you know that donation of eggs is equally commonplace? With more and more childless couples seeking the help of fertility clinics, the demand for egg donors has gone up. However, though fertility clinics pay a woman anywhere between Rs 40,000 and Rs 1 lakh to donate her eggs for in vitro fertilization and transfer into another unable to produce her own, experts are concerned by medical malpractices taking place in the name of helping childless couples-with women in need of money at the receiving end.

Yuma Sherpa, who died in a south Delhi fertility clinic on January 29 while undergoing a procedure for retrieval of eggs, is a case in point. Sherpa, her husband Sanju Rana alleges, was persuaded by agents of the clinic to become a donor. “She started undergoing treatment on January 8. She complained of discomfort after being administered injections but was forced to continue by the clinic. It’s a clear case of medical negligence. I have met the Delhi police commissioner and sought action,” he said.

Police, Rana said, are awaiting the viscera report. Initial post-mortem conducted at AIIMS showed her ovaries were enlarged possibly due to hormone injections.
“There’s no clarity on the information given to her, whether she was informed about the risks. Who was the witness? If she has gone with an agent, could the agent be the witness?” Sarojini N of Sama Resource Group for Women and Health said. She said the group has written to the health minister and sought a fair inquiry.

Sudha Sundararaman, national vice-president of AIDWA (All India Democratic Women’s Association), said the case highlights vulnerability of poverty-stricken women persuaded to donate without counselling, monitoring or assessment of their suitability. “The ministry of health and family welfare must immediately draft a law to regulate this profit-making industry,” she said.

There are over 3,000 fertility clinics in the country and, in absence of a law to regulate them, malpractices are on the rise, say experts. “It’s difficult to comment on one case. But there is no doubt that malpractices such as hyper-stimulation to get more eggs or generating extra embryos prevail. A law to regulate this sector is indeed an urgent requirement,” said Dr Anoop Gupta, who runs a fertility clinic in central Delhi. “Today you can find fertility clinics in every nook and corner of Delhi and even smaller cities. It has become a lucrative business with foreigners coming here to get cheaper surrogate mothers. Her rights, health and medical needs are not a priority at all.”

India is among just a handful of venues including Georgia, Russia, Thailand and Ukraine and a few US states where women may be paid to bear another’s child. Low-cost technology, skilled doctors, absence of regulation and a plentiful supply of donors and surrogates have made it a preferred destination for fertility tourism, attracting people from Britain, US, Australia, Japan and other nations of the world.


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