Dec 16, 2008

India - Baby dreams take a beating

Deepa Suryanarayan

The recent terror attacks have resulted in huge losses for medical tourism. Clinics offering in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure and surrogacy services have been affected because a huge chunk of the clientele is from foreign countries.

With consulates of many countries issuing a travel advisory against visiting Mumbai, couples from abroad seeking fertility treatment in the city have either cancelled or postponed their plans. Surrogacy clinics normally offer medical treatment, accommodation, local transport, ticketing, helping out with visa, and even take people on sightseeing tours.

“There were many couples who were supposed to come here to complete their IVF cycles. But all of them have postponed it to February,” said Dr Gautam Allahabadia, director, Rotunda, The Center for Human Reproduction. “At least five of my patients have postponed their plans and two have cancelled.”

“Even the enquiries about fertility treatment have come down from seven per day to just one,” said Allahabadia. The regular patients now were Indians who had been undergoing treatment at his clinic, he said.

Dr Yashodhara Mhatre, fertility consultant, Surrogacy India, said several clients had put on hold their plans. “The IVF cycle requires the couple to be in the city for at least 15 days, which now seems to be a difficult proposition for foreign couples,” she said.

“Our clients will surely return once things settle down because India offers the most affordable surrogacy service which is at par with the best countries in the world,” said Dr Sudhir Ajja of Surrogacy India.

A positive sign is a 39-year-old gutsy US-resident who was so determined to not miss her IVF cycle that she flew to London and waited for the first flight to Mumbai. “My parents and relatives advised me against it. But I was determined to come to Mumbai,” she said, requesting anonymity. “Being a part of a law enforcement body in the US, I know that law enforcement officers in every country do their best to protect the lives of both foreigners and their own citizens,” she said.

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