Sunday, April 30, 2006

Clever new uses of the internet by infertile couples

The internet has proven to be a major boon for infertile couples. It has allowed them to think out of the box; and to explore new options which are not available to them in their own country ( because of governmental rules and bureaucratic regulations). This freedom has allowed many couples to achieve their personal reproductive goals, which they would never have been able to do a few years ago, because they were not aware of options outside their own country. Of course, not all couples have the courage to make the decision to travel outside their own country to take treatment, and they are often discouraged from taking this step by friends and family members. However, simply because IVF treatment is so ridiculously expensive in the US, many well-informed couples from the US ( many of whom are doctor and nurses themselves, and who know a good medical deal when they see one !) are making the decision to seek treatment overseas. This trend has been well-documented, and is often called reproductive tourism ( a pejorative term which has been coined to preserve the status quo, because US doctors feel threatened, in my opinion).
While an IVF cycle in the US costs about 2-4 times that in India, this discrepancy is much more pronounced when couples need to make use of additional options such as using donor eggs . A donor egg IVF cycle in the US can easily cost about US $ 25000 plus - and most of this is because of the legal burden ( lawyer's fees) and the agency ( who sources the egg donor) fees. Clever infertile couples are now overcoming the stranglehold of these "middlemen" , thus helping to cut down their financial expenses ( after all, the medical treatment remains similar, so it's hard to justify paying a premium of over $ 15000 to the mediating agencies). Many are now advertising for and recruiting their own egg donors; asking their local doctors to screen them for their health and fertility; and then flying down with their own egg donor to India for treatment. This means that one donor egg IVF cycle becomes half the cost of what a clinic in the US would charge ( even after you include the cost of the hotel and the air tickets) - and the donor also gets an exotic overseas holiday in the bargain !

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