40-year-old Ramila and her husband, Suresh, welcomed their bundle of joy a few months ago after rounds of infertility treatment. The couple — who had been childless for long — was thrilled to be parents and so were the relatives who showered the child with their blessings. However, what Ramila and her husband didn’t tell their family is that the child born to them is not genetically theirs. In fact, it was the miracle of embryo donation that helped Ramila get pregnant. This means the egg and sperm did not come from Ramila and her husband but were donated by anonymous female and male donors.
Another couple in their late 40s opted for embryo donation after losing their only child to cancer. Nine months later, they became the proud parents of a baby girl. Their family still thinks it is a result of infertility treatment.
More and more infertile couples in the city are going for embryo donation not only to know the joy of parenthood but also to experience motherhood — for the woman.
In embryo donation, a sperm and an egg from different donors is taken and fertilised through IVF. This fertilised egg is then placed in the uterus of a woman undergoing infertility treatment who then delivers the baby.
“Embryo donation is the recourse many infertile couples take to when both of them are infertile. It is the second last step before adoption. Usually couples who are 40 years and above or have poor egg and sperms opt for this procedure,” said Dr Kanthi Bansal — an infertility and IVF specialist.
“Many times a woman has a perfectly healthy uterus that can carry a baby but does not have good quality eggs. Her husband too has poor quality sperm. In such cases, embryo donation is often the recourse they take to when they don’t want to adopt,” said Bansal.
She said that the egg and sperm donors remain anonymous. “The most important part of this process is that the woman gets to experience motherhood. Genetically, the baby may not belong to them but after carrying it in her womb for 9-months, the mother gets attached to the child,” said Bansal, adding it is a known procedure and has been available for some time but it is only now that more and more couples are opting for it. Dr Nayna Patel — another infertility specialist from Anand — too, agrees to this. “Whether a couple chooses to inform their relatives about embryo donation depends from case to case. Many a times, couples don’t tell their parents. The choice is up to them,” said Patel.
She added that of the patients who come to her for treatment 10% finally end up opting for it. “We have seen a rise in couples opting for the treatment. It has got more to do with awareness than anything else,” said Dr Patel. “In India, despite the awareness, infertility can be a curse for the woman. Being a mother suddenly increases the stature of the woman in a family. Many women happily opt for it just to experience motherhood,” said Dr Bansal.
(Names of patients have been changed to protect identity)