27 April 2011
The city has good IVF clinics which draw medical tourists, but the sperm banking scene is non-existent
Pune’s sex ratio may be skewed in favour of males, but we still do not have enough sperm. Considering that Pune is a rising star in medical tourism, sperm banking requires a fillip.
Take the case of medical tourists Shamin and Qadir (names changed to protect identity). They have come from Iran because they wish to have a baby using the in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) method in Pune.
After a check up they were told they would have to wait for the right semen sample, as the donor would have to be from a similar cultural background. "Our IVF consultant told us that he needs to ask the international sperm bank in Mumbai for the exact sample. We were surprised when we got to know that Pune didn’t have a commercial sperm bank," Qadir said. Shamim,
whose passion to have a baby has made her impatient, has no choice but to wait. "We came to Pune especially for IVF. Now, we have to wait longer for our baby because we need a suitable donor. If we don’t get one our dream of having a baby may never see the light of day," she said.
The much smaller Aurangabad provides the bulk of the semen to Pune’s IVF clinics. Besides this, the city also relies on Mumbai and Ahmedabad for sperm.
"Back then, we were excited about the IVF technique. So, we got all the information related to sperm banking from various western countries. But the excitement was shortlived as the response was poor. These days, we receive at least one enquiry for semen samples every day but we have to tell them that we don’t have the facility anymore.
One of reason why Cytochem never took off is that most donors were not ready to undergo the plethora of tests required for donation. Also, most married males who considered donating backed out as their wives were against the idea. Wives were insecure about it," he said.
Sperm banking is not task: it is a lengthy process that requires constant attention, seamless storage and reliable donors who are available for various tests, like HIV and Hepatitis B for instance, every three months, besides counselling. "We need at least six months to decide if a donor is eligible. Unfortunately, Pune was not ready for it," Dr Mirashee said.
Dr Anand Shinde, who is an IVF consultant at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, told Mirror that they outsource their samples. "We outsource because the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research states that an IVF centre can’t run a bank on the same premises. It should be outside the centre so as to maintain the confidentiality of the donor and the receiver. Running a sperm bank is complicated. Also, an IVF doctor can’t wait too long for a sample. We can’t risk anything as far as the quality of sperm is concerned. So, we prefer to outsource."
Dr Sanjay Gupte, the IVF consultant at Gupte Hospital echoed Dr Shinde’s views. "We strictly outsource samples from Mumbai as we need to be sure about quality. There are banks in Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Aurangabad which are well-known as they follow the medical council’s guidelines," he said.
Dr Sajeev Khurd, IVF consultant with Khurd Hospital told Mirror that they also outsource samples. "We outsource from Mumbai. In case of foreign patients, we need to approach an international sperm bank in order to have the right match and quality. Pune urgently need an awareness programme on sperm donation.
Once people understand how crucial donation is, many young donors will turn up," he said. Dr Sunita Tandulwadkar, head of Ruby Hall Clinic’s IVF department also spoke about the strict guidelines. "We can’t start a bank at the IVF centre. But we do have a separate bank which provides samples exclusively to our clinic. However, Pune needs more banks to meet the demand of other IVF centres," she said.
Dr Pramod Bajaj, the owner of Spermprocessor Pvt Ltd in Aurangabad is now a sperm ‘exporter’ of repute. "We provide semen samples to 20 states. We have to sell 30 samples to Pune at one go because it’s not financially viable otherwise. We also get many enquiries from other cities. We prefer a donor who is between 20 and 25 years of age.
Since a married donor is usually not available for the lengthy testing process, we prefer young and single donors. To maintain confidentiality we give a gate pass to every donor. We discontinue the donor every six months to avoid genetic imbalances." He said that a sample costs between Rs 1,500 to 1,700, which includes transportation charges.
"We send semen samples in liquid nitrogen containers (which is at minus 196 degree Celsius) by bus or train," he added. Dr Bajaj said that initially his lab also faced problems due to a lack of donors, but with counselling the scene has changed in Aurangabad. Dr Dilip Patil, managing director of Cryos International India, a sperm bank in Mumbai, said his bank is a collaboration with Cryos International, a Denmark-based bank.
"We provide samples to Pune which are mainly for foreign couples. Due to our association with Cryos, which has banks all over the globe, we’are able to provide samples even to Irani and African couples. Before providing semen, we study the receiver’s as well as the donor’s physical and cultural attributes thoroughly, such as skin, eye and hair colour.
For instance, we provide a sample from a Punjabi donor to a Punjabi receiver. This helps the child gain social acceptance," he explained.
Dr Patil said that they follow the medical council’s guidelines as well. "That’s why, the rejection rate of donor is 70 per cent in our bank. Out of every 100 donors, only 30 make the cut. Cost of one sample is between Rs 3,500 to 4,000 which includes transport charges, as we provide quality," he added.
- Pune gets semen samples from Aurangabad, Mumbai, Ahmedabad
- Only Ruby Hall has a sperm bank, but it’s exclusively for their IVF clinic
- Aurangabad samples are attractive because they are cheaper: Rs 1,700 for one.
- Mumbai sample costs at least Rs 3,500
- Sperm samples from international bank in Mumbai is mainly for foreign couples in Pune
- Aurangabad bank sells at least 30 samples in one shipment as it’s not financially viable otherwise Banking Problem
- As per the medical council’s guideline, an IVF clinic and a sperm bank can’t be under the same roof as it compromises both the donor and the receive’s confidentiality
- Semen sample have to be stored in liquid nitrozen, whic is at -196 degree Celsius
- Elaborate tests to qualify as a donor dissuades many from considering sperm donation. Banks prefer single men between the age of 20 and 25
- Semen sample should match the cultural background of the couple seeking IVF treatment. So, a Punjabi couple gets a Punjabi sample. This is crucial for easy social assimilation of the child