Thursday, October 22, 2015

Open Letter to ICMR, Ministry of Health,Govt of India regarding the ART Bill

Congratulations on drafting the ART Bill ! This has been created with good intentions. A lot of IVF clinics in India are of poor quality, and substandard IVF medical care means that infertile couples  are often taken for a ride. This is not good for anyone, and because the medical profession hasn't done a very good job at regulating itself, it seems quite logical to introduce a law in order to regulate IVF clinics.

However, your requirement that donor eggs be sourced through ART Banks is a retrogressive measure, and a bill which is actually meant to protect and help infertile couples, may end up hurting them.

Today, all over the world , modern egg donation programs have started using frozen eggs. The egg donor is superovulated, her eggs collected and then frozen in liquid nitrogen , so that they can be used whenever an infertile couple needs donor eggs. This is exactly the same model we use for frozen sperm.   Using frozen eggs and sperm is much more convenient and also much safer. It allows us to match the donor and recipient better; and we can make sure that the donors are free of HIV.  Thanks to vitrification technology , it's now finally become possible to freeze eggs as reliably as we freeze sperm. However, if it's only the ART Banks which are allowed to provide egg donors, then who will freeze the egg donor's eggs? ART Banks are not allowed to do egg collections, and IVF Clinics are not allowed to do recruit egg donors for egg collections !  These outdated rules have created a Catch 22 situation .

By crafting a rule based on obsolete technology, we're actually doing a major disservice to infertile couples by forcing them to use fresh donor eggs. We're actually moving the IVF profession one decade backwards because of poorly crafted rules, which have not been able to keep up with the times. This is a very dangerous and unhappy trend. By trying to create " ART Banks " ( a concept which does not exist anywhere  else in the world !) in order to fulfill arbitrary regulatory requirements, we're doing a disservice to doctors as well as to patients.

All over the world, IVF clinics provide donor egg services to their patients. They will usually source their own egg donors and match the donor and recipient. Keeping this in house helps to ensure a high quality of control. Now, if you can trust an IVF Clinic to take good care of its IVF patients, then why can't you trust it to take good care of its IVF donors as well? After all, aren't you regulating the clinics to make sure that they're not taking any shortcuts ?

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