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Monday, December 22, 2014

Raipur emerging as surrogacy hub, 10 childless couples benefited

RAIPUR: 25-year-old Pratima (name changed) from Ahmedabad is expecting a baby in next two months. She used to work as sweeper on streets of Ahmedabad earning Rs 150 per day before she agreed to be a surrogate mother on the request of a couple based in United States.

After the baby is born, Pratima's life is all set to change. At least she hopes so. She would be able to provide proper education to her five-year-old daughter. Her husband is a rickshaw driver and the couple dream of having a shelter they can call home.

Pratima, who is in Raipur for spending her last months of pregnancy under care, told TOI that it wasn't difficult for her to decide for the US couple as she had seen her childless neighbours in pain, while money in exchange to bear the baby didn't seem like a taboo to her anymore. She is one among the 15 other surrogate mothers in their pregnancy at Chhattisgarh's first surrogacy home of Dr Neeraj Pehlajani's test tube baby centre in Raipur.

Vinita (name changed), 30, became a surrogate twice to bear children to two childless couples in Nagpur and Pune. "My earnings helped me buy a small home and begin a little business of my own. My husband, who was unemployed, now earns Rs 15,000 from the business," she told TOI.

Talking to TOI, Dr Pehlajani said that in last one and a half years city has emerged as a surrogacy hub for foreigners as well Indians, with more than 12 successful deliveries and 15 more underway.

"Women in Chhattisgarh are slowly opening up as surrogate mothers and couples here are also opting for surrogacy instead of going to other states for the same. In fact, Raipur is counted among hotspots for surrogacy tourism lately, with several infertile couples from USA, Europe, Africa and neigbouring Bangladesh and Afghanistan visiting the place for fertility treatment or bearing child through surrogacy," Dr Pehlajani claimed.

Raipur is getting attention for surrogacy after high ratio of infertile couples were blessed with children that too at competitive rates. The number of couples visiting Chhattisgarh has tripled in last few years. Besides foreigners, couples from Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab and Gujarat are frequent visitors here.

Talking about rules, Dr Pehlajani said a surrogate mother can go for three attempts and have total five children including her own. At any point of complication when decision is to be made between mother and child, it is made clear to the couple that they will save the mother.

"At Pehlajani test tube baby centre, we have tied up with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) banks who manage the deal and background check procedures. A detailed investigation is done which takes two-three months, also to ensure if intended parent doesn't wish the child for trafficking. It is followed by several health check-ups including mental, physical health, physical characters like hair and skin colour, blood group, HIV," he said.

"Fertility problems can have devastating emotional impact on couples and surrogacy being beneficial to both intended parent and surrogate mother is not only means of income but also purposeful. For the surrogate mother, the earnings mean the world. At times, couples also sponsor education and send gifts to mothers," the doctor added.

The law factor:

Surrogacy is turning into a respected profession and mothers are usually the needy ones.

In last few years, several states in country emerged as surrogacy destinations with legalized commercial surrogacy since 2008 at comparatively lower cost. Surrogacy Laws in India are also undergoing immense change. India is taking steps to position itself as a legally risk-free destination when it comes to international surrogacy arrangements. However, ART Bill, 2008 is still pending in Parliament, doctor said.

Surrogacy in Raipur:

Delivered in Raipur: 10

Under pre-natal care: 15

Childless couples & surrogate mothers from: Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi

Couples from foreign countries: United Kingdom, USA, Russia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Bangladesh

Rules for surrogates

Can opt for surrogacy thrice

Can bear five children, including her own

Must have a gap of two years between each child.


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