Tag Archives: Egg Donation

Indian IVF bill may stop gay couple surrogacy

In the name of the fathers ... John Allen-Drury, left, and his partner, Darren, nurse their son, Noah, who was born in India using a surrogate mother. Photo: Graham Crouch

If the parents of newborn Noah Allen-Drury are lucky, their son will sleep through the noise as their flight from India lands in Sydney this morning.

Noah’s gay parents, however, are aware of legal turbulence that could prohibit the surrogacy arrangements that fulfilled their wish for a child.

A growing number of male couples from Australia and other Western countries are hiring surrogates in India to bear children, but that might no longer be possible if a draft bill to regulate IVF in India becomes law.

R.S. Sharma, the secretary of the committee writing a bill to govern assisted reproductive technology (ART), told the Herald that unless gay and lesbian relationships are legalised in India, gay couples would be excluded from hiring surrogates.

Delhi’s High Court recently overturned a 150-year-old section of the country’s penal code that outlawed ”carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.

However, gay activists warn this ruling, which in effect decriminalised sodomy, does not legalise gay relationships, leaving the status of such relationships unclear.

“If our government does not permit gay relationships, then it certainly will not be permitted for foreign gay couples to come to this country and have a [surrogacy] agreement,” said Dr Sharma, who is the deputy director-general of the reproductive health and nutrition division at the India Council of Medical Research.

John and Darren Allen-Drury, who live in the Blue Mountains, raced to India earlier this month when their surrogate mother entered labour. She gave birth to Noah on April 8. John Allen-Drury said changes to India’s laws would be a great disappointment, if passed.

”It would prevent a lot of same-sex couples from coming here,” he said.

Although some gay couples sought surrogate mothers in the United States and Thailand, ”India really is the closest country to Australia that offers affordable surrogacy,” he said.

The draft bill could make it difficult for all Australian couples to use Indian surrogates.

One stumbling block would be a requirement that foreign countries guarantee they will accept the surrogate child as a citizen – before a surrogacy could begin.

Dr Sharma said foreign couples would have to obtain a document from their embassy or foreign ministry pledging the surrogate child citizenship of their country. “Only then will they be entitled to sign an agreement with a surrogate or an ART clinic,” he said.

Parents using a surrogate would also be obliged to accept the baby even if it was born with abnormalities.

”Under the Australian Citizenship Act, there are no guarantees,” a spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said on Friday. ”What you can infer from this is that while it’s not illegal, we certainly wouldn’t be encouraging it by giving a rubber stamp to anyone who entered into such an agreement.”

Mr Allen-Drury said surrogacy in the US cost $200,000 or more. In India the arrangements could be made for $40,000 to $50,000. Thailand’s laws were changed last year to stop surrogacies for same-sex couples, although it remains legal for single males.

Mr Allen-Drury said a requirement for the Australian government to guarantee citizenship before a surrogacy could begin was impractical. ”That would just close the door,” he said.

Trevor Elwell and his partner, Peter West, have twin girls, Evelyn and Gaia, from a surrogate mother in Mumbai. Mr Elwell predicted parliamentary inertia meant the Indian laws were months or years off. But he was concerned that interim guidelines could be adopted and, in effect, exclude same-sex couples.

Mr Elwell said the citizenship proposal could pose an insurmountable hurdle.

”If you want to do that process earlier and confirm citizenship, you’re going to have to have a government process upfront,” he said.

The demand for a guarantee of citizenship meant the Australian government would have to grant it on the basis of a contract it did not recognise.

”It is a bit of a tangle, so it might affect heterosexual couples in the long run,” Mr Elwell said.

Since the publicity after they got their twins, Mr Elwell and Mr West say they have helped more than 100 couples – some gay, some straight – arrange a surrogate mother in India.

”The tip of the iceberg may have been us.”

 Source: The Sydney Morning Herald (26 April, 2010)

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Egg Donation

For many couples, being infertile no longer means having to go through life without children. Modern science and continued research in this direction has helped millions of couples all over the world become parents to a healthy child. Even issues that were once thought to make it impossible to conceive a child can now be overcome. One such female fertility problem is having a lack of eggs available for fertilisation.

What is Egg Donation

So what is a woman to do if her eggs have been found to be of poor quality or low quantity? Using an egg donor can significantly increase your chances of pregnancy. Compared to a your own eggs, using donor eggs are typically a better option when you do not have a very good ovarian reserve.

Ovarian reserve is the quantity and quality of eggs present in a woman’s body and this number differs for from every woman. In some cases, in spite of a high number of follicles, a woman may not have her eggs mature due to issues like premature ovarian failure. Other women may have eggs that are incapable of being fertilised or implanting on the uterine wall due to structural defects.

On the whole, donor eggs may be a better option when:

– Premature ovarian failure due to genetic or auto-immune disorders has been diagnosed or has occurred due to radiation therapy or artificial removal of the ovaries

– A woman is over 40 and is going through or has already gone through menopause

– There has been no response to fertility drugs

– There is a high level of FSH in the blood (FSH is a hormone that stimulates follicles to mature into eggs. If its level is too high in the blood, it signifies fewer eggs present in the body.)

– A woman cannot conceive in spite of repeated IVF cycles

– There is a risk of transferring genetic disease, like haemophilia, to the child from the mother

Physical Considerations

Doctors recommend that if a couple is opting for donor eggs, the mother should undergo a detailed medical analysis to check whether her body is suitable for pregnancy or if she is at a health risk. This particularly becomes important for women aged 40 years or more.

The uterus is also checked for deformations such as fibroids and scarred tissues that may not allow the egg to implant.

Psychological Considerations

The decision of using an egg that is not yours is a difficult one. The choice of the donor, her being known or anonymous, the ethical or religious aspects, the choice of telling the child, the involvement of relatives and friends and most importantly the parents’ firm will to use donor eggs are some aspects of the issue that have to be dealt with.

Psychological counseling can be very helpful for couples in this regard to make a concrete decision.

Selection of Donor

Choosing a donor is a crucial aspect. She might be a family friend, relative or a person known to you. There are also many organisations and online sites that provide a list of donors who are willing to donate eggs. If you are already attending a fertility clinic, they too may have a pool of egg donors from which you can choose. Some couples have also successfully advertised for donors, though this may not be a safe approach, as the person’s background cannot be sufficiently verified.

Depending on how you locate your donor, the donor may remain anonymous. For instance, if your infertility clinic offers an egg donor program, you will likely be able to read about a donor’s health history, physical traits, education level, possibly profession and other general information. However, you will not learn the donors name, address or any other information that will allow you to identify them.

In general, women between the ages of 18 and 35 who are physically healthy, non-smokers, with no hereditary or sexually transmitted diseases and who are psychologically fit are most suited to become donors.

Donor’s Check-Up

In order to ensure that a donor is physically, genetically and psychologically healthy for the donation, she has to undergo a number of tests. These may include:

– Blood tests to know the blood group, blood count and check for any infectious diseases might be passed on to the child

– HIV tests

– Hepatitis B and C tests

– Test for syphilis

– Medical history of the donor and her family to ensure that no hereditary problems are present

– The level of hormones present to know how fertile she is and whether her eggs are healthy enough

Psychological counseling is also advised to know her better as well as prepare her for the process.

The Procedure

Once you have decided to use donor eggs, the first step involves consultation with a physician or an organisation providing the donors. This helps in identifying your needs better and also answers any queries you might have regarding the procedure. The consultant also tries to find out your physical characteristics, likes, and dislikes to best match you with a donor.

After the selection of the donor comes the evaluation cycle phase.

Egg Donation Cycle

When the process of pregnancy takes place naturally, the uterus of the mother prepares itself by thickening the lining of the inner wall, while the body automatically produces an increase of hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, for the conception. But in the case of pregnancy with donor eggs, a mother’s body is not prepared for pregnancy and therefore the hormones have to be artificially induced.

A prospective mother will undergo an evaluation to determine the correct amount of estrogen and other hormonal supplements to be administered prior to transferring a fertilised donor egg. This is done by measuring your blood estrogen level and through ultrasound check ups to observe the uterine lining. The doctor may also give oral or estrogen injections to raise your hormone levels, which you may continue to take for a period of 10 to 14 days.

Then, the donor and the mother’s cycle are synchronized with the help of birth control pills. Once this has been done, the donor is given fertility drugs to promote a greater number of eggs being matured during her cycle. Meanwhile, you are given the appropriate dose of estrogen to prepare your uterus for the embryo.

A day before your donor under goes egg retrieval, you are given progestrone vaginally or with an injection. When the donors egg are retrieved, your partner will provide a semen sample that day so that his sperm can be combined that day with the freshly retrieved eggs. After 3 to 5 days, once the embryos have formed, two to three embryos will be transferred to your uterus as it normally would during an IVF procedure.

You will continue to receive estrogen and progestrone doses to help encourage a pregnancy. 10 to 11 days after the embryo transfer, a pregnancy test is carried out to check the success of the procedure.

Benefits

There are a number of benefits to using donor eggs:

– A donor egg from a younger woman increases the chances of conception to 50% as compared to 15% to 18% with your own eggs. This is because donor eggs are of better quality and there are more numbers of eggs available for fertilisation.

– As the donor egg provides a better chance of fertilisation, you may not have to undergo as many IVF cycles thereby saving yourself from the physical, mental, and financial anxieties associated with each cycle.

– Donor eggs provide an opportunity to conceive a child whose genetic make up resembles one of the parents.

– You are able to experience the process of giving birth when the fertilised egg is placed inside your uterus, which is not possible with an adopted child.

Risk Factors

A common fear of parents is that their child will be born with a genetic defect. Donors, however, are usually extensively checked for any signs of physical and genetic abnormalities. As a result, the chances of your child being affected by genetic problems caused by a donor are significantly reduced. However, they cannot be completely eliminated.

Unlike donor sperm, which is frozen and quarantined for at least six months, donor eggs are not frozen. This is because the freezing technique for eggs has yet to be perfected; in fact, freezing eggs typically damages the egg making it unusable. Therefore, fresh eggs must be used when you opt for donor eggs. Some infections, like HIV, may not produce a positive result until months after the infection, which means, although a donor may be tested, there is still a chance that she, and her eggs, could have a serious infection.

Other risks associated with this procedure include those associated with the IVF process itself as well as the chance of miscarriage if your body does not respond to the embryo. Furthermore, because two to three embryos are transferred, your risk of a multiple pregnancy occurring is increased.

Success Rate

Research has shown that there is about a 48% to 50% chance of conceiving using donor eggs. For women above the age of 40, who in general have a lower quality and quantity of eggs, the chances of conceiving with a donor egg is 5 times more than with their own eggs.

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Adult stem cells may lead to new infertility treatment

A special class of adult stem cells, known as human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, has for the first time been reprogrammed into cells that develop into human eggs and sperm. The research, carried out by members of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)’s Broad Stem Cell Research Center, was published in the January 27 online edition of the journal Stem Cells. Derived from adult body cells that have been engineered to return to an embryonic state, iPS cells have the ability to become every cell type in the human body – a characteristic they share with embryonic stem (ES) cells. In this study the iPS cells were coaxed into forming the germ line precursor cells that are capable of giving rise to sperm and eggs. ‘This finding could be important for people who are rendered infertile through disease or injury’. said Amander Clark, the senior author of the study. ‘We may, one day, be able to replace the germ cells that are lost, and these germ cells would be specific and genetically related to that patient’. Many infertile couples would see this process as preferable to using eggs or sperm from a donor who would then become one of the child’s genetic parents. However, Clark cautioned that scientists are still many years from offering treatments involving iPS cells to infertile patients. There are many uncertainties and dangers that need to be resolved. For example, the process of reprogramming involves using viruses to deliver genes to the cells, potentially increasing the likelihood of genetic abnormalities and cancers. Crucially, Clark’s team found that the germ line cells derived from iPS cells did not perform certain key regulatory processes as well as those generated from ES cells. The associated increased risk of chromosomal errors, or abnormal growth, could have serious health consequences for any child conceived using egg or sperm obtained in this way. Therefore Clark believes that it is vital that research using human ES cells continues. These cells can be derived from left over embryos used during in vitro fertilisation, and would otherwise be destroyed, yet their use is controversial and the topic remains fiercely debated.

Sources : Los Angeles Times, IVF News

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Clients of Surrogacy Agency Missing Millions of Dollars After Company Suddenly Closes

The Web site was impressive. An agency called SurroGenesis listed 60 locations worldwide where infertile couples and individuals could find women willing, for a fee, to serve as gestational surrogates. Aspiring parents put up tens of thousands of dollars hoping the agency could help them start families.

Today, SurroGenesis’ main office, in Modesto, Calif., is closed. So is an escrow company, Michael Charles Independent Financial Holding Group, that was supposed to be safeguarding the clients’ money. It turns out that many SurroGenesis locations were post-office boxes. An FBI spokesman, Steve Dupre, said the agency was evaluating the case but had not opened an investigation.

U.S. and international clients of SurroGenesis are missing as much as $2 million after the company suddenly shut down without explanation, according to lawyers familiar with the case, the New York Times reports.

Money gone

SurroGenesis told clients March 13 via e-mail that their money was gone. The shutdown affected about 70 people, some of whom had paid as much as $90,000 for promised gestational surrogacy services. “Many of them have lost their savings, and any chance of having a family is completely destroyed,” said Andrew Vorzimer, a lawyer working with those affected. “We’ve got couples in the midst of pregnancies with no ability to pay the surrogate, or even make insurance payments, which have gone unpaid.”

On the heels of the birth in January of octuplets, conceived by in vitro fertilization to a single California woman who has six other children, the case highlights the lack of oversight in the business of creating babies. There is no licensing requirement for egg-donor and surrogacy companies.

According to the Times, several couples learned about SurroGenesis on the Internet. As part of the agreement for surrogacy services, parents were instructed to deposit money to cover costs in an escrow account. SurroGenesis in a March 13 e-mail told clients that their money was gone and advised them to hire lawyers. The e-mail also said that clients should contact the Modesto Police Department because the escrow company that was supposed to be holding clients’ money — the Michael Charles Independent Financial Holding Group — was no longer paying its bills. California records show that SurroGenesis founder Tonya Collins is also listed as the registered agent for the Michael Charles group, even though it “was supposed to be an independent and bonded escrow company,” according to the Times. FBI spokesperson Steve Dupre said the agency is evaluating the case but has not launched an official investigation. Andrew Vorzimer, a lawyer working with some of the clients, said, “Many of them have lost their savings, and any chance of having a family is completely destroyed.” He added, “We’ve got couples in the midst of pregnancies with no ability to pay the surrogate, or even make insurance payments, which have gone unpaid.” According to the Times, Vorzimer said there is one surrogate carrying twins for a couple who lost more than $50,000. The surrogate is on bed rest, but the couple now is unable to reimburse her for lost wages.

Sources: New York Times, 3/21/2009

Seattle Times, 3/22/2009

Reproductive Health News, 3/24/2009

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Preparing for your IVF treatment

Your Emotional Preparedness:

There are many complex emotions that you will be encountering as you are anticipating your IVF cycle. If you are using donor eggs, donor sperm, or a surrogate, the emotions that you have will be even more splintered, as you also must consider the weight of genetics in this equation.

Before you proceed with IVF, you will want to speak with a psychotherapist that is trained in infertility. There are some very natural concerns that you will have and feelings that you will be confronted with. Your therapist can give you gentle guidance as you navigate through these new features, in your pursuit of pregnancy.

Some emotions that you can expect to have are:

• Loss or mourning over lost pregnancies, cycles that failed before and possibly even the loss of your ovaries. If you are having IVF, there is a strong likelihood that you have encountered a great loss to get there. It is natural that you will feel grief, as you are anticipating your cycle.

• Fear of not being a “real” parent is another very normal emotion that you may experience as you are preparing for your IVF cycle. Your child will not be any less than your child, and you will be no less their mother. You’ll still be the one they turn to, when they fall off their first bike. You’re just like any other pregnant woman, only you will have fought harder to get there.

. Being afraid that it won’t work after all of the time, money and emotions that you’ve invested in the procedure is natural. The truth is, it may not work and you need to understand that prior to moving forward. Your counselor will help guide you in this matter.

. You may feel scared that you will let down your donor, if they are a friend or family member. You may feel as though you are personally disappointing someone, who went through an enormous quest to help you, if the cycle fails. It’s important to know that you have no control over the outcome and they have been counseled in the possibilities of a failed cycle, prior to the retrieval.

Don’t be concerned if you start to question the decision to utilize IVF, donor eggs or sperm. When you are faced with a huge decision it’s not unusual to falter now and then. This is a big step and it takes some getting used to.

Finally, after all of these concerns and emotions, you may also feel something you haven’t felt in a long time; you may feel hope. Donor eggs may not be a certainty and IVF may not be 100% successful; but you can permit yourself to enjoy a dash of hope, in your anticipation.

Your Physical Preparedness:

As your cycle approaches, there are a few things that you can do to prepare yourself. It goes without say that you should limit your caffeine intake, eliminate smoking, and drinking alcohol. Light to moderate exercise is beneficial to both your emotional and physical well-being, which ultimately is good for your reproductive health. Consult your doctor before you start a new fitness plan and it’s important to remember that a rigorous routine should be omitted.

Remember that you’re not just preparing for IVF, you’re preparing for a pregnancy. It’s recommended that women who are attempting pregnancy begin taking folic acid, prior to conception and you may want to include prenatal vitamins, in your daily routine. This will create the best environment for your fetus.

A diet that is high in leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, calcium as well as protein, is optimal for your pregnancy. You may want to talk to your doctor or nutritionist about foods that would be most beneficial to you, during your pregnancy, or even to help you build a pre-pregnancy meal plan, to prepare you for conception. Do not begin any restrictive diets, such as low-calorie or low-carbohydrate. Though it’s not ideal to be overweight in pregnancy, this is not the time to start a weight loss plan. You can read more about fertility enhancing food on –  https://therotundaramblings.wordpress.com/2008/09/27/foods-that-make-you-fertile/

The month prior to your transfer your doctor may ask you to participate in a mock cycle, to show that you and your donor respond properly to your respective hormone therapies. The endometrium used to be accessed via biopsy, but this technology did not prove itself reliable. Today you will most likely have an ultrasound about 10-12 days into your estrogen-enhanced cycle to measure your endometrius.

You may need to start birth control pills to regulate your cycle so that you can synchronize with your donor’s. You may also be asked to use a gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonist, which inhibits the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge; so that your own cycle does not get canceled and the uterine lining is ready for the implanted embryo.

You may still feel unprepared when it is time to begin your cycle, but that is completely normal as well. You may never feel completely prepared. The important part is that you have made your decision and are headed toward the next step in your pursuit to have your child.

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Yonatan, Omer & Evyatar Gher

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Israeli_gay_couple_gets_a_son/articleshow/3724754.cms

 

 

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France: Woman, 59, is oldest mother of triplets

A 59-year-old Frenchwoman has given birth by Caesarian section to two boys and a girl, who are in good health, the Paris hospital treating her said on Monday last.

“Everything went smoothly,” said a spokesman at Cochin hospital where the triplets were born overnight Saturday.

The woman, of Vietnamese origin, is thought to have resorted to a private Vietnamese clinic willing to overlook the age limit for egg donation and in vitro fertilisation (IVF), set at 45 in Vietnam, according to press reports.

Egg donations are authorised in France but most fertility clinics here set a maximum age limit of 42 for would-be mothers.

But nothing prevents couples from seeking fertility treatment abroad and in 2001 a 62-year-old Frenchwoman gave birth to a child conceived through IVF, in the Riviera town of Frejus.

Earlier this year, an Indian woman said to be 70 years old gave birth to twins after receiving IVF treatment.

The baby girl weighed in at 2.42 kilograms (5.34 pounds) as did one brother, while the second boy weighed 2.32 kilograms.

The birth of triplets by a mother in her late 50s was unprecedented in France and possibly a world first.

But the news raised eyebrows among French health professionals concerned that science was pushing the limits of motherhood too far.

“Having children at that age is dangerous in terms of child development,” said child psychiatrist Nicole Garret-Gloanec.

Women of child-bearing age are able to “draw the link between their own childhood and their baby,” she said.

This case raises questions as to “how you can help a child grow, in educational terms and development,” said Dominique Ratia-Armangol, president of the national association of early childhood psychologists.

She said a child born to an older woman can become confused about the role of grandmother and mother.

Garret-Gloanec suggested that the mother’s late-in-life desire to have children was “a denial of ageing and of death.”

“It’s unhealthy, to project onto children your own anxieties about death,” she said.

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