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Surrogate moms defy social stigma to bring smiles to the childless

Written by: Staff

Anand, Gujarat, Mar 1 (UNI) They rented their wombs to bring cheer to several childless couples but are still fighting a war against the stigma attached to surrogacy or commercial in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

''Surrogacy is not accepted in our society,'' said Kamlaben (name changed) who delivered a baby not long ago for a UK-based couple.

''I had to move out of my village in the seventh month of pregnancy and stayed in Anand till I delivered the baby. Back home, I told everybody that I had a miscarriage,'' she said while addressing a press conference.

Kamalaben and eight others, who had gone in for surrogacy, had gathered in a hospital here to interact with mediapersons to raise awareness about surrogacy and help people develop a positive attitude towards it.

A mother, Tejalben, said she has encouraged her three daughters and her daughter-in-law to be surrogate mothers. ''It is not the money alone but the smiles my children have brought to a number of childless couples is what makes me very happy,'' she said.

In the past two years, at least 18 women have come forward in Anand alone to be surrogate mothers.

Dr Nayna H Patel, who has been treating the childless couples with the IVF for several years now at her Kaival Hospital here told UNI that women who have undergone several IVF cycles, multiple miscarriages, or have had their uterus removed, have problems carrying through a pregnancy.

''So they prefer to go in for surrogacy. In IVF, the egg of the biological mother is fertilised with sperms of the father in a test-tube and the embryo is then transferred into the uterus of the surrogate mother. Many childless couples prefer surrogacy to adopting a child as the baby is genetically theirs,'' she said.

Talking about issues involving surrogacy, Dr Patel said there is a small sub-group which objects to this but in general ICMR guidelines are in favour of the childless couples.

She said her hospital takes utmost care to follow the procedures as per ICMR guidelines. A contract is signed between the two parties before the whole process is initiated, and the couple bears all the medical expenses. No contact between the two families is encouraged after the delivery is through, she added.

Most women going in for surrogacy are from lower or middle income and with the financial help they receive, they are able to make their lives better, Dr Patel said.

Rachna (name changed), another woman to have rented her womb says,''Of course, I did it for the money. We had to buy a house and the money came handy. My husband was intially reluctant but gave in later. If by doing it, I can provide a better life for my two children, I do not mind at all.'' Seconding her, another mother, who has two children of her own, said she could not have imagined earning so much of money in one go.

Though none of them came forth on how much they got per delivery, one mother said Rs 2.25 lakh was the highest amount one had got till date in the district.

Savitaben, who has gone in for surrogacy a second time said, ''There is nothing wrong in surrogacy if both the parties are happy. No one was forcing me to do it,'' she added.

She had carried a baby for an NRI couple earlier and will be delivering the second baby in April.

But she is scared to reveal her identity as her village will not accept her.

Talking about how she came to support the commercial IVF, Dr Patel said it was sometime back when a nurse in her hospital had volunteered to carry the baby for a couple who could not have children. ''Then her daughter too came forward and that is how it all started,'' she added.

''But the first case which is cited paramount in any discussion on surrogacy is that of a mother who bore her daughter's child in 2004,'' she said.


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