Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Federal prison for Glendora egg donation, surrogacy firm owner

The owner of a Glendora egg donation and surrogacy company was sentenced Monday to a year and a half in federal prison for cheating would-be parents, egg donors and surrogates out of nearly $270,000.
Allison Layton, 38, was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release after she is released from prison. A restitution hearing was set for Oct. 22.
Layton, who also used the name Allison Jarvie, pleaded guilty in February to a federal wire fraud charge. She owned Miracles Egg Donation, which claimed to handle the logistics of the donation and surrogacy process, and operated it out of her living room, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Between August 2008 and January 2012, would-be parents — who in the surrogacy and egg donation world are known as intended parents — paid thousands of dollars for egg donation and surrogacy services that Miracles promised to coordinate, federal prosecutors said.
Layton took tens of thousands of dollars from intended parents. But instead of putting the funds into escrow accounts to be withdrawn only for certain costs related to surrogacy or egg donation, she used the money for her own personal expenses or to cover unpaid costs related to other clients, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
As a result of Layton’s misappropriation of client funds, egg donors, surrogates, attorneys and others often weren’t paid for all the services they provided, and intended parents often did not receive all the services for which they had paid, according to court documents. At least one investor in Miracles also lost money.
When the donors, surrogates and intended parents sought to recover their money and costs, Layton would lull them into believing they would be repaid through false assurances that payments had already been made or would be made soon, court papers show.
Source: http://mynewsla.com/

George Clooney, Amal Alamudin May Need To Undergo IVF Treatments To Have A Baby

Power couple George Clooney and Amal Alamudin are eager to have a baby before the year ends. The couple may have been involved in a lot of divorce rumors which they were able to successfully get rid of. As a matter of fact, the two celebrated their first wedding anniversary yesterday.
US Weekly reported that George and Amal celebrated their first wedding anniversary over dinner last Sept. 27, Sunday at Asanebo Japanese restaurant in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles. The two still have the "newly-wed glow" together. They were able to survive all the nasty divorce rumors and all the marriage problems they have been through. And now that they are already in their first year of marriage and think that their foundation is already solid, the couple are very much considering having a baby. However, there's a hindrance to such beautiful plan: "George's geriatric baby batter."
According to Celebrity Dirty Laundry, Star Magazine reported that George is the one who is having difficulty getting Amal pregnant. George's age is a huge factor of it. The magazine explained, "But at the not-so-tender age of 54, the Ocean's Eleven star may have challenges ahead in the procreation department, meaning his prime baby-making years being long-gone might affect their desire for a baby."
Hollywood Hiccups also reported that in this week's edition of Life and Style Magazine, it has been said that, "They plan to have a baby within the next year. They have had conversations about why they could have trouble conceiving. First off, George is in his mid-50s which means that the volume, mobility, and structure of his sperm will have declined. For her part, Amal is barely 100 pounds. If need be, they will consider outside help such as IVF. They'll do anything to have a baby, and soon!"
It looks like the couple are determined in having a baby. And they have all the money needed in order for them to do whatever it takes for the human rights lawyer to get pregnant even if they have to go see the best fertility clinics and undergo the necessary IVF treatments.
Source: http://www.realtytoday.com/

Friday, 25 September 2015

US IVF clinics help Aussie parents select their baby’s gender

About one out of five couples who come to HRC Fertility, a network of fertility clinics in southern California, doesn’t need help getting pregnant. Instead, they come for what is called family balancing, or non-medical sex selection.
According to the network’s medical director, Daniel Potter, these couples usually have one, two or three children and want in-vitro fertilisation to guarantee a child of the other sex.
In Australia, couples under­going IVF treatment do not have the right to choose their unborn child’s sex but in the US they do, and Potter sees 15 to 20 visiting Australian couples every month.
“Typically it’s women wanting to have a daughter, that’s 80 per cent of what we do,” he says.
“Since they were little, the child modelling parenting behaviour has created an entity that for them is usually a daughter. For many women, they have projected the future with that entity: taking her to ballet class, walking down the aisle, that kind of thing. When they have two boys, and they find out they’re pregnant for the third time and (it’s another) boy, (if) they’re crying it’s not because they … resent that son, they’re crying to mourn the loss of that entity they’ve had their whole life.”
Non-medical sex selection is a controversial practice legal in only a few countries, including the US and Mexico. It involves the same technology used to screen for genetic diseases, pre-implantation genetic testing, and even though safety concerns have been addressed, the broader ethical questions remain. In Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council has floated those ethical questions again as part of a rewrite of guidelines for clinicians and researchers on the use of assisted reproductive technology.
Even in the US, these ethical questions have engendered a mixed response. In June the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued a position paper saying practitioners are under “no ethical obligation to provide or refuse to provide non-medically indicated methods of sex selection”. But the ethics committee of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reaffirmed last year a committee opinion opposing the practice of sex selection for personal and family reasons.
“We don’t want people to use technology that’s really intended to help couples with medical needs for non-medical reasons,” says Sigal Klipstein, head of the ACOG ethics committee. She says IVF is considered a very safe procedure, but as with any medical procedure there is a low risk of bleeding and infection, as well as overstimulation of the ovaries.
Potter says about half the patients he sees for non-medical sex selection come from abroad. He was recently in Australia for reunions with about 60 families he helped to select their children’s sex, including the Kanavans from Victoria.
Katie Kanavan, 33, travelled from her home in Melbourne to Potter’s clinic twice to undergo IVF/PGD. She already had three boys, all conceived naturally. She and her husband, Stuart, wanted to ensure their next child was a girl and had no such guarantee in Australia. “We wanted to give our boys a sister and we wanted to have a daughter as well,” she says.
The Kanavans spent about $US50,000 on two cycles of IVF/PGD and travel expenses. “It was a pretty big gamble for our family,” Katie Kanavan says. “We saved a lot. We did take money out on our mortgage.” They now have a girl, Ruby-Rose, 2. “We’ve completed our family,” Kanavan says. “I’d do it in a heartbeat again.”
Family balancing should be allowed locally, says David Molloy, chairman of the IVF Directors group in Australia. But it could not be publicly funded, given the range of views on such issues. While well-off parents were paying big money to travel to the US, others were trying unconventional and unproven methods at home, such as “intercourse timing, douching (or) powdered bulls’ testicles”.
“Given there’s a whole heap of unauthorised gender selection happening in bedrooms around Australia, I think it’s reasonable to allow scientific gender selection that actually does work,” Molloy says. He says patients frequently ask about the possibility of choosing their baby’s sex.
Michael Chapman, vice-president of the Fertility Society of Australia, acknowledges that most people may oppose the concept but says about 60 per cent of IVF patients want the option. He considers that reasonable, given how emotionally and financially invested they had to be in IVF.
The NHMRC’s Australian Health Ethics Committee, which produced the draft guidelines, suggests the public debate “would be enhanced through the exploration of some of the complex ethical and social issues raised by non-medical sex selection, through the use of illustrative case studies”.
Those case studies extend beyond family balancing to the replacement of a deceased child and borderline medical reasons, such as where a couple has a boy with autism and believes there would be less chance of their second child having autism if it were a girl.
Arthur Caplan, ethics director at New York University’s medical school, says family balancing can become a smokescreen for families that want boys: “When you are treating the fertile in order to produce something that they prefer as opposed to a disease, I do think you’re really opening the door to a potential slope toward eugenics.”
Potter says although there have been cases of couples wanting a child capable of providing bone marrow to a sick sibling, they were rare.
Sometimes family balancing is sought in second marriages, where a couple wants only one child and there are children from previous relationships, but mothers wanting daughters is the most common cause.
Potter says the Australian women he sees do not have firm views on whether the ethical guidelines should change, instead arriving just “happy and very appreciative that we are there to provide the service to them”.
Like Molloy, he believes that if there is no public funding involved, opposition to sex selection will fade away.
David Kaufman, a program director at the US National Human Genome Research Institute, doesn’t expect a trend to emerge for designer babies. Unlike sex selection, genetic testing of embryos for other traits is much more complicated because most of them are governed by multiple genes. “In most cases we don’t even know all the genes and even if we did you’re pretty unlikely to produce an embryo with the perfect combination of all those genes,” he says.
Potter says every case is different and the couples he helped all had their own, sometimes deeply emotional, reasons for wanting to choose a boy or a girl.
“These are not monsters, these are normal loving families who would like to have a gender represented in their family that currently isn’t,” he says.

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

To Freeze Or Not To Freeze

As stated in the article ‘A precursor to abortion’ by Arthur Galea Salomone (September 14), the Prime Minister is on record saying that he is “resolute on the introduction of embryo freezing”.
Well let’s consider some facts about the freezing of embryos.
Often, when undergoing IVF treatment, people have a number of unused embryos and some choose to freeze them. The couple must decide how long the embryos will be stored (usually 10 years).
The chances of becoming pregnant with a thawed frozen embryo are not affected by the length of time during which the embryo has been stored. But not all embryos will survive freezing and eventual thawing. Occasionally, no embryos survive. Only embryos of suitable quality will be frozen, the rest are destroyed.
What is the chance of having a baby using frozen embryos? Due to the freezing and thawing process, the chances of having a baby using a thawed frozen embryo are lower than with a fresh embryo.
What about costs? In the US, it cost about $10,000 to harvest eggs from the ovaries. The eggs need to be frozen and stored, at a cost of about $500 a year. Each time eggs are thawed, fertilised and transferred to the uterus via IVF it costs about $5,000.
IVF helps thousands of infertile couples. The freezing of embryos entails many issues, as outlined. Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of embryos have accumulated in fertility clinics throughout the US, some awaiting transfer but many literally frozen in time as parents ask themselves questions few among us ever consider with such immediacy: when does life begin? What does ‘life’ mean, anyway?
Source: http://www.timesofmalta.com/
A doctor works at a centre to preserve sperm and eggs of infertile couples at Tu Du Hospital, HCM City. About 10 per cent of married couples in Viet Nam are infertile. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Vy

HA NOI (VNS) — About 10 per cent of married couples in Viet Nam are infertile.
The statistic was presented last week on the three-year anniversary of the establishment of the Reproductive Support Ward during the final workshop of "Golden week – supporting infertile couples", organised by the Andrology and Infertility Hospital of Ha Noi.
"There are many different causes of infertility. It might be either the wife or the husband or both," said Le Thi Thu Hien, deputy director of Andrology and Infertility Hospital of Ha Noi.
Hien said women are commonly diagnosed with blocked fallopian tubes, polycystic ovary syndrome, uterine malformation and endometriosis. For men, the most common issues are sperm abnormalities, azoospermia (no sperm cells are produced) and oligospermia (few sperm cells are produced).
"However, the success rate of infertility treatment for couples is quite high due to the application of a treatment regimen and appropriate medical intervention," she added.
Since its establishment, the hospital's Reproductive Support Ward has received nearly 13,000 infertility cases, of which nearly 2,400 married couples underwent in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Last year, the hospital's success rates of the most advanced assisted reproductive technologies – cases in which pregnancy occurred after treatment – included 31 per cent of intrauterine insemination (IUI) cases, 42 per cent of fresh embryo transfers and 65 percent of frozen embryo transfers.
One success story was an IVF procedure that used sperm from a deceased man. The 34-year-old wife from Hoang Mai district, Ha Noi, had conceived one daughter with her husband before he died in an accident. After his death, the wife requested that his testicular tissue be removed and stored at the hospital for three years.
Doctors then applied IVF to the wife. As a result, she became pregnant and gave birth to twin boys on December 9, 2013, weighing 2.4 kg and 2.9 kg. The babies have grown healthily since.
The second case involved an IVF procedure on a 33-year-old male with hemiplegia, which rendered him physically unable to have sex for a decade.
They underwent IVF in 2012 and ended up having a healthy baby boy weighing 3.2 kg.
Subfertility, the inability to conceive for a prolonged period of time, was also discussed during the workshop.
"Married couples who can not conceive even in the absence of contraceptive methods or even after having one child should come to the hospital for check-ups for early detection in case they suffer subfertility," said Nguyen Dinh Tao, deputy director of the Embryonic Tissues Center under the Military Medical Academy.
Subfertility should be treated in individuals who are over 35 years old, the age at which the ability to conceive reduces sharply, especially in women, whose hormones begin to decline. — VNS

Source: http://vietnamnews.vn/society/276155/fertility-ward-helps-ha-noi-couples.html

Surrogates helping more area couples expand their families

Little John has his mom Tara Morris with him and the woman who brought him into the world, Brooke Collawn.
“I can’t imagine not being a parent myself,” Collawn says with emotion.  “So to help others has been amazing.”
Collawn has been a surrogate for three different couples, all complete strangers at the beginning who are now bonded for life.  After having three sons with her husband and miscarrying a fourth child, Collawn decided to mend hearts for moms who couldn’t carry on their own.
“It can be a beautiful thing,” says Morris, explaining she already had son Tripp with her husband.  They desperately wanted another child, but a medication she needed to control an anxiety disorder prevented her from safely getting pregnant again.
On the very same day the Morrises explored their options with a fertility specialist and lawyer, both offices got a call from someone special who wanted to give another couple a gift.
“It was her,” Morris points to Collawn who sits next to her on the couch at her Charlottesville home.  “Through the lawyer and through the doctor’s office, it kinda came that way.”

“Yeah, we kinda felt like it was fate,” Collawn added.
Richmond surrogacy attorney Colleen Quinn recalls this relationship she helped make possible.
“Brooke Collawn is an amazing individual.”
This is just one of the arrangements she’s guided from start to finish at The Adoption and Surrogacy Law Center near Willow Lawn.
“I can easily say ten years ago I had done hundreds of surrogacy arrangements.  I can now say I’ve done thousands,” says Quinn.  “They definitely are happening at a pretty rapid rate.”
Quinn, who was working out five surrogacy contracts the day of our interview, says it is becoming more acceptable in Richmond.  What’s called compassion arrangements make up about a quarter of them.  That is when a sister or best friend carries for a woman who cannot.  The rest and overwhelming majority are matches made online, through clinics or lawyers.
“I kinda see it as long-term baby-sitting.  I know going into the process that the baby is not mine,” Collawn explains how she’s been able to carry children who would not be hers in the end.  “Just the look on the parents’ faces when you place that baby in their arms makes it all worthwhile.”
Quinn says it can take up to two years from start to baby.  The lengthy process involves a background check.  The surrogate must also be cleared by her Ob/Gyn and must pass psychological screenings.
“What is their motivation, and is it generally altruistic in nature?  Is this person going to be able to carry a child and then be able to detach?” Quinn goes down the list of questions considered.
Quinn says it is a must that both sides map out a plan together and get it in writing.  Her contracts include everything from whether some wine consumption is okay during the pregnancy to whether both sides are pro-choice or pro-life.
“How is this relationship going to process, how is it going to occur over the next year?” Quinn encourages her clients to address everything.
Quinn says a Virginia statute requires all surrogacy payments be tied to household living and medical expenses associated with the pregnancy, paid monthly over ten months.  From her experience, first-time carriers can expect about $18-25,000, but intended parents also pay all attorney fees.  Add-ons like life insurance policies, reimbursements for C-Section recovery and more are also often included in the contract.
According to Quinn, however, Virginia law is very complicated if a surrogate who uses her own egg decides she wants to keep the child.  There is no case law on point, but Quinn says it is likely the woman could get custody of the child.  The genetic father would ideally get visitation and a support obligation.  If the surrogate carries the intended parents’ fertilized egg, Quinn says it is unclear what would happen for a non-court approved contract.  It is why she recommends couples do their homework and put as much planning as possible into their arrangement.
“We do have occasional hiccups, but for the most part these arrangements if vetted well on the front end do amazingly well,” she says, noting her thousands of success stories, like the Collawn-Morris arrangement.
“Aunt Brooke,” as she is now called, is a big part of the lives of the children she carried.  She says she gained as much as she was able to give to the three couples she helped.  She is grateful for the beautiful friendships and beautiful babies she now has in her life.
Morris is too.
“She made our family complete,” she said.
Baby John turns one on Friday, September 25.  Collawn will be there for the festivities.
Source: http://wric.com/2015/09/22/surrogates-helping-more-area-couples-expand-their-families/

Tough question

In the immediate aftermath of the April 25 quake, 26 newly born babies were evacuated by Israel from the disaster-stricken city of Kathmandu. The arrival of the infants—born to Indian surrogate mothers in Nepal—in Tel Aviv received extensive media coverage. Moving pictures of ecstatic same sex couples sparked an intense debate on the Israeli surrogacy law which only permits surrogacy for infertile heterosexual couples. Soon after, there was widespread criticism   of the lopsided focus on the infants and not on the well-being of the surrogate mothers. The Attorney General of Israel, however, was quick to approve a plan to permit surrogate mothers carrying the fetuses of Israeli parents to enter the country. Meanwhile in Nepal, the entire episode came as a surprise to many.
To begin with, Nepal did not and still does not have any laws on surrogacy. But in December 2014 a Cabinet meeting decided to allow foreign couples to seek surrogacy services from foreign women in Nepal. Interestingly, this decision of the government coincided with the Indian government’s plan to present the Assisted Reproductive Technique Bill in the winter session of its Parliament. The bill was expected to further regulate India’s multi-billion dollar surrogacy industry but its legislature failed to pass it citing a lack of time. All the same, the Nepali government’s decision resulted in an influx of Indian surrogacy mothers. Reports of the exploitation of surrogate mothers along with the involvment of Nepali women soon followed. The clients are reportedly charged up to Rs 10 million for surrogacy services by the agencies that make all the arrangements, out of which the hospital receives Rs 4 million while surrogate mothers only receive Rs 300,000-400,000. Amidst all of this, last month, the Supreme Court directed the government to ban surrogacy until Nepal formulates laws on it. In response, the Cabinet decided to ban surrogacy services altogether last week.
Nepal’s tryst with surrogacy might have ended rather quickly but there are many unresolved issues. The fate of the surrogate mothers who are on their way to delivering the baby, for instance, remains unclear. The government should take the responsibility of meeting all their needs. It should also clarify its position on those women and if the infants born to them will face any legal hassles while leaving the country or not. They are, after all, the victims of the shortsightedness of the government. Furthermore, surrogacy was only permitted for foreign couples initially. The current ban, however, extends to Nepalis too. This is like throwing the baby out with the bath water as it could curtail the rights of same-sex couples and infertile heterosexual couples to have children. So, what the country needs is an extensive discourse on whether the state should allow surrogacy or not. The sudden manner in which surrogacy was first partially permitted and now banned does not do justice to this sensitive issue.

Source: http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

World's first fallopian tube bank to inform research into fertility and cancer

Pinkish in colour and the length of a middle finger, the first stocks in an unusual new bank are useless to their female donors, but for future generations they may hold the cure to health problems ranging from infertility to cancer.
The Royal Hospital for Women and the University of NSW have opened the world's first fallopian tube bank with 68 founding specimens, which would otherwise have been discarded as medical waste after being removed from women with ectopic pregnancies.
Doctors have been collecting the fallopian tubes since September 2013, but they have now reached the critical mass necessary to make them available for research.
Every woman who was approached agreed to donate her fallopian tube to the project.
The Royal's head of reproductive medicine, Bill Ledger, said the tissue could be used to improve researchers' understanding of conditions that occur later in pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia and how cancer cells invade healthy cells within a tissue.
It could also tell doctors more about why some women are more susceptible than others to ectopic pregnancy.
"The one question women always have when they wake up is, why did it happen to me?" Professor Ledger said.
"Women who have had one ectopic pregnancy are five times more likely to have another one than someone who hasn't had one. A lot of these women end up in IVF."
The research will also be a boon to the IVF industry
Professor Ledger, who holds a position with IVF Australia, said the fallopian tube collection had already yielded evidence that some women's wombs were not receptive to the embryo being implanted at the right time of the month.
About 2 per cent of pregnancies are ectopic, which occurs when the baby starts to develop outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes.
The condition is fatal to the fetus and life threatening to the mother, causing nearly three-quarters of maternal deaths that occur in the first trimester.
Fiona Patterson was expecting her first baby with IVF when her doctors detected an ectopic pregnancy, causing mild panic among her specialists.
"Everybody was really worried," Ms Patterson said.
"They said if you have any pain, just ring an ambulance. They gave me their personal numbers. Every day I would go home and think, is it going to happen tonight?"
The pregnancy ended in miscarriage and she ended all attempts to become pregnant with her own eggs.

Instead she found an egg donor, and seven weeks ago she brought home a little girl.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

High Court refuses single father's application for a parental order

The UK's High Court has ruled that single parents cannot apply for a parental order to become the legal parent of a child born throughsurrogacy.
The applicant is the biological father of a child, Z, born in the USA following a surrogacy arrangement using eggs donated by third party. Although the surrogate relinquished her parental rights and the applicant was registered as the child's father in the USA, on returning to the UK the legal status was different – the surrogate was treated as the mother and the father did not have parental responsibility. The child has been made a ward of court. 
In order to become the child's legal parent and for the child to receive a UK birth certificate, the father was required to apply for aparental order. However, unlike adoption, a parental order can only be made by two people in a marriage, civil partnership or long-term relationship.
The applicant argued that this requirement was discriminatory and interfered with a single person's right to a private and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The court was asked to interpret the rules on parental orders in such a way that would be compatible with the Convention rights.
Lawyers for the father also pointed out that the  Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act – the legislation dealing with parental orders – was updated to make the law fit for the 21st century by removing discrimination against different family forms, and that both the law and government policy clearly supported the principle that single people should not be excluded from adoption.
Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, was not persuaded, however, saying that the provision in question could not be 'read-down' to include one-person applications. He explained that Parliament had made a very clear distinction based on important points of principle and such a construction would not be compatible with the 'underlying thrust' of the legislation.
It would ignore what 'has always been a key feature of the scheme and scope of the legislation', Lord Justice Munby added. The applicant did not pursue an argument that the legislation itself is incompatible with the ECHR.
Representing the father, Natalie Gamble, of Natalie Gamble Associates, said: 'This is about whether the court can stretch outdated laws to recognise the modern families actually now being created, and to protect the children being born into them.'
'We want to see children being born through surrogacy to single parents being treated in the same way as children being born to couples.'
Meanwhile in South Africa, the High Court in Pretoria has ruled that the requirement that at least one of the intended parents must have a genetic connection to the child for the couple to become legal parents through surrogacy – a requirement that also applies to parental orders in the UK – is unconstitutional. 
'A family cannot be defined with reference to the question whether a genetic link between the parent and the child exists,' the judge said. The decision is being appealed to the Constitutional Court, reports IOL news.

Source: http://www.bionews.org.uk/

Scots couple who have lost six babies hope surrogate mum can help them have a family

A COUPLE who have lost six babies are hoping a surrogate mum can help them have a family.
Jina McPhee, 28, suffered the deaths of two daughters, when they were just 13 days and three years old, miscarried twins and had two stillbirths – all within eight years.
It was only after her sixth child was stillborn that doctors realised she has a rare condition that means she’ll never be able to carry a baby to full term.
They suggested surrogacy would be the best option for her and husband Tam, 31. But it’s only now, three years on, that they feel able to take that step.
Jina, from Livingston, said: “We’re desperate to have a family. I would give anything to be a mum again and Tam is such a good dad.”
The couple have been together since Jina was 16 and she first became pregnant a year later.
She said: “I had severe sickness all the way through my pregnancy but I felt I wasn’t being taken seriously when I went to the doctor because I was so young.
“When Krystal was stillborn the doctors said it was nature, just one of those things, but I was devastated.”
Just a few months later, Jina learned she was expecting twins. But again she became ill and lost them at 12 weeks.
She said: “It was horrible. My experience was very much like the recent EastEnders miscarriage storyline.
“Friends and family texted me to tell me not to watch it, but I’m just glad the issue was put out there for people to learn about.”
For the next year, Jina and Tam grieved and tried to get their lives back together. Then, in 2006, she became pregnant a third time.
She said: “I was really sick but I was told I was just one of those people who got ill during pregnancy.
“Then I had to give birth early – at 26 weeks – by emergency caesarean.”
Karmelle weighed only 410g and the doctor told the shattered parents not to expect much.
Jina said: “We were heartbroken but she seemed intent on defying doctors’ predictions and fought so hard.
“After four months, we were told she was severely brain damaged and life expectancy was short. We were allowed to take her home two months later.
“Doctors couldn’t believe she was still alive, it went against everything medical books suggested.
“I was so proud of her and she was just the best. Her wee personality kept us going.”
Karmelle died in November 2009 but had a lasting effect on her parents’ lives.
Jina said: “She really taught us about disabilities and, after she passed away, we both decided we wanted to work with disabled people. I went to college to study learning disability nursing and Tam started working with Enable.”
About a year after Karmelle’s passing, Jina became pregnant with Ruby.
She said: “I wasn’t half as ill this time and was receiving closer attention from the hospital.
“But then I couldn’t feel her moving and I was rushed in for another
emergency caesarean at 27 weeks.
“We were so happy to be told she didn’t have brain damage but then she had an episode and her bowel burst, which turned to septicaemia. She died two days later.”
For Jina’s sixth pregnancy, doctors put her on a high dose of steroids. But three weeks after they stopped the treatment at 20 weeks, Murray was stillborn.
After doing test on the placenta, they finally discovered that Jina had a rare condition that is untreatable and gets worse with every pregnancy.
She said: “My eggs are fine but my body fights against being pregnant. In hindsight, it would have been good to find out after the first pregnancy but then we would never have had Karmelle, and she brought so much to our lives.”
It’s taken a while for Jina and Tam to feel comfortable about going down the surrogacy route, but they finally feel ready to make that step.
Jina, who is due to start working at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital this month, said: “There’s an organisation called Surrogacy UK, who can match us with a surrogate.
“We set up a fundraising page more in hope than anything else but the response has been unbelievable.”
The couple have already raised more than £5500 but expenses can range from £8000 to £15,000.

Source: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/

Monday, 14 September 2015

Give Surrogate Moms their Due Respect, Says this Film by Doctors

25-year-old, Sumi, belonging to an underprivileged family, who gives tuitions to eke out a living, wants to raise money for her widowed sister’s six-year-old daughter’s heart surgery. Finding no other way, out of sheer desperation, she responds to an advertisement in a paper where an affluent lawyer is looking for a surrogate mother.
This is the plot of Bhaswati Roy’s film which has turned the spotlight on surrogacy. It was introduced in India about a decade ago. For a decade, 35-year old History professor, Bhaswati Roy had cherished a dream to make a film on a socially relevant issue. She attended a range of workshops on film-making, developed her script, organised funds and finally began shooting a year and a half ago. Her Bengali film, Shunyo Je Kol (The Empty Lap) will be released next month.
A Film on Surrogacy
Not much is still known about surrogacy and neither Sumi nor the lawyer are initially aware that a surrogate mother must be married and have at least one child.
Nevertheless, the protagonist becomes the surrogate mother. She receives Rs 5 lakhs but she pays a heavy price for it. Her boyfriend severs ties, society rejects her and her tuitions are discontinued. Once the baby is born and she has to hand him over to the lawyer and his wife, she feels the heart-wrenching pain of separation.

Dr Rajesh Das, who is Bhaswati’s husband, and four of his friends, from Calcutta Medical College, who have a passionate interest in theatre, agreed to act in her debut film.
Treatment of female infertility through IUI (intra uterine insemination) and IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) have already proven their effectiveness. But when a woman is infertile due to a congenital or acquired defect or her uterus is unable to carry the baby through the full term, then surrogacy is the only answer to get a genetically linked biological baby by hiring a non-defective uterus, the resting and growing place of the embryo.
— Dr Rajesh Das, Actor and husband of Bhaswati Roy

Source: http://www.thequint.com

Friday, 11 September 2015

One in two IVF sperm donors for Australian kids is American

Australia has a strong record of helping couples conceive — one child in every classroom is now said to have originated from IVF — but at least half of all donor sperm still has to be imported from the US.

The latest data on the use of Assisted Reproductive Technol­ogy shows that strong demand for infertility treatment has levelled off but outcomes continue to improve­, with genetic testing expecte­d to revolutionise the industry­ in the coming years. Mich­ael Chapman, the vice-president of the Fertility Society of Australia, said it still took a concerted effort to find local sperm donors, who until recently were outnumbered by American donor­s two to one.

“I don’t know what the current statistic is but certainly, if you’d asked me about IVFAustralia’s figures 12 months ago, it would have been two-thirds American,” said Professor Chapman, a senior fertility specialist with IVFAust­ralia and a leading academic.

“Over the last 12 months, our campaign to find more local donors­ has had some success — so I would say (the figure) is now closer to 50-50.”

Queensland Fertility Group clinical director David Molloy said yesterday that in his experience the split was 70-30, with the majority coming from the US, where the practice of paying for sperm had a bigger influence on American donors than doubts that they would remain anonymous, which still seemed to deter Australian men.

While there appear to be no import or regulatory controls on the use of American sperm, Dr Molloy said clinics sought out providers with similar practices to Australia.

Launching the ART data report­, Professor Chapman said that about 14,000 babies were deliver­ed in Australia and New Zealand each year as a result of IVF, and advances in technology meant frozen embryos had the same chance of success as fresh embryos. “One in 25 babies born in Australia is the result of an IVF cycle,” he said.

Professor Chapman said Australia led the world in single embryo­ transfer — multiple births carry more risks — with a twinning rate in the 2013 data period­ of 5.6 per cent, the lowest ever and well under the 20-25 per cent rate in the US.

With half of all embryos “genet­ically doomed”, Professor Chapman said better and cheaper testing would be likely to result in success rates of 60-70 per cent within a few years.

A ban on selecting the gender was also under review, and Professor Chapman said that while a majority of people might oppose the concept, probably 60 per cent of IVF patients wanted that option­, given how emotionally and financially invested they had to be in the process.

“If a woman is producing eggs, and she persists over cycle after cycle … if they can afford it and if they can emotionally cope with it, if you keep going for up to six cycles­, your chances of pregnancy — if you’re under 40 — is in excess­ of 75 per cent,” he said.

“That’s going home with a baby. But many women fall by the wayside, many couples fall by the wayside.”
Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

IVF – The Revolution Has Only Just Begun

Rights, responsibilities, obligations and ethics are all fundamental to achieving a healthy discussion. However, in this day and age the state has to move away from parochial or patriarchal mentality and move towards legislating with everyone’s interest at heart.
Einstein once said that ‘to raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science’. Clearly, this has been the case with the development of IVF over the past few decades.
In Malta, despite a positive early record in the private sector, it was only in 2015 that the first 30 patients started their first IVF cycle at Mater Dei Hospital. This was after legislation was enacted in 2012. After three years a review of the IVF legislation is due to evaluate successes and failures and also to bring it in line with other relevant legal norms and ECHR jurisprudence and eliminate inequalities.
In a nutshell the IVF legislation needs to be taken to the next level.
For starters the name of the present law, Embryo Protection Act, does in no way capture the legislation in its entirety. The fact is that it is IVF legislation with the scope of facilitating fertility and reproduction. The name should echo this. IVF should be available to all individuals, single or in a relationship, doing away with the discriminatory terms of the act. Presently, the act is in contravention of constitutional anti-discrimination provisions, introduced in April 2014, with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Secondly, the Act provides for services for women aged 25 to 43 (less a day) years of age. This should be changed so that there are no legal restrictions based on age. The state, through the National Health Service, may lay down restrictions as it deems fit for services offered by the state, but it is not necessary to restrict the private sector. Those wanting to avail themselves of the private sector should be free to do so without being compelled to go abroad, where age is not a legal barrier. This would open a can of worms for discussion on how old a person should be to become a mother. This is where I believe common sense should prevail.
A very important milestone that this review should note is the need to introduce embryo freezing which will, among other factors, bring the opportunity to transfer frozen embryos from previous cycles without the need for the woman to go through a treatment cycle again. A treatment, I might add, which is very painful and costly. In fact, Article 16(e) of Convention on the Elemination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) specifically establishes “the right for women to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children…”
One might ask what will happen to the remaining frozen embryos. Might I suggest asking prospective parents what they would do and rest assured that the reply will be that, of course, they would want to keep the embryos for another pregnancy. Believe me, I have had first hand experiences of friends and relatives, but most of them remain silent in this debate.
That said, the existing possibility to freeze oocytes already exists and should remain for those who want it.
The updated legislation needs to decriminalise egg and sperm donation and create a framework that would allow for anonymous ova and sperm donation for all, without obliging anyone to donate. Due to the insularity of our country, consideration should be given to exchanging ova and sperm donation with foreign donor banks if necessary. In the case of known donors, the law should obviously have a structure to cater for this eventuality.
Moreover, the opportunity for surrogacy, with all the serious ethical considerations that surrounds this, should be explored and possibly made available to those who truly need it. This provides a legitimate route to parenthood for those individuals suffering in silence.
I understand that the issues mentioned above will spark much debate. Rights, responsibilities, obligations and ethics are all fundamental to achieving a healthy discussion. However, in this day and age the state has to move away from parochial or patriarchal mentality and move towards legislating with everyone’s interest at heart. This would allow prospective parents to avail themselves of services within our own country and not force parents to look for solutions abroad.

Source: http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/comment/blogs/56203/ivf__the_revolution_has_only_just_begun#.Ve57Q9Kqqkp

Monday, 7 September 2015

Forget sex selection with IVF, try being grateful for a healthy baby

I THINK it’s disgraceful some parents are so desperate for a child of one particular sex that they are willing to go overseas for expensive and invasive IVF.

They call it family balancing. I call it vanity parenting, the wish to perfectly reproduce yourselves in your children.

Psychologists call it “gender disappointment”. It’s now a recognised disorder reflecting the anguish some people feel when they find out they are having a baby of the “wrong” sex.

What ever happened to people just being grateful for having a healthy child and leaving it at that?

I have friends who have desperately ill children who would give anything for a healthy child of either sex.

Illness is something that has a way of teaching us what’s really important in life. And being able to order a girl or a boy baby like a pepperoni pizza shouldn’t be important to anyone.

I have other friends who are in their early 40s and who are realising they may never bear children of their own. They’d also be happy for a healthy child of either sex.

So I am not very sympathetic to those who make baby-making more complicated than it needs to be for their own selfish ends.

Now, I should make it clear that I am talking about sex selection for family reasons, not for medical reasons.

There are some very good medical reasons why some couples want to choose the sex of their baby, such as a genetic predisposition to haemophilia or cystic fibrosis, which are more prevalent in one sex.

But wanting to choose the sex just because of a desire for a girl after a string of boys is simply ridiculous.

Despite that, the number of Australians travelling to the United States to select the sex of their baby via IVF has doubled in five years.

As I see it, being a male or a female is not a disability. Sure, you might want a certain mix of children, but to impose your superficial wants on nature seems to me to be somewhat immoral.

There is a big gap in my mind between vaguely wanting a boy or a girl, and making it a biological imperative.

Surely there is a slippery slope here: once we let people choose babies on the basis of sex, what’s to stop selection on the basis of hair colour or height or intelligence?

Alarmingly, the National Health and Medical Research Council is reviewing the guidelines that made this process illegal in this country in 2005.

What worries me is that a lot of the decisions to choose a boy or a girl are based on quite sexist notions of what children of each sex are like.

So a family have a number of boys and goes to the US seeking a girl because they think she is going to be more nurturing and less rough? What if she’s not? What then?

They can’t hand her back. It seems they may be setting themselves up for a lifetime of disappointment.

In any case, experts say that in this country, 80 per cent of families turn to experts because they want a girl, which is pretty offensive to boys.

For instance, an Adelaide woman has been in the media this week saying she was “depressed” when she found out she was pregnant for the third time with a son.

“Having a little girl was important to my husband and I wanted to have that mother-daughter bond,” she said.

The woman went on to have the boy, then went overseas to get help to conceive a girl, who is now 15 months.

“There isn’t anything missing any more,” she said.

I think that is very concerning. A mother of three healthy boys who still feels that is not enough is something that should be fixed with therapy, not a trip to a foreign IVF clinic.

Rather than indulge such feelings by making sex selection legal in Australia, the real motivation should be questioned.

Are they making decisions based on outdated stereotypes? Is there a racial or cultural aspect to their decision?

I worry, too, that making sex selection legal here will further legitimise those who abort a healthy foetus solely because it is the wrong sex.

It’s not common, but we know it does happen. A Victorian couple aborted twin boys a few years ago as they already had three sons.

They are now looking at treatment in the US. Tragically, they had previously lost a girl soon after birth and wanted another girl.

You would think that a couple who had been through that sort of tragedy would be grateful for another child of any sex. But no, in this age of gender disappointment, it seems not.

As I see it, the existence of a human being should be based on whether the child is wanted and can be cared for, not whether it is a boy or a girl.

There’s no certainty when it comes to sex selection, and there should never be. It’s one of the last great mysteries of parenthood and birth.

As I’ve said before, the stork might make deliveries, but he shouldn’t take orders.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Nepal’s surrogacy ruling disappoints LGBT Israelis

Nepal’s Supreme Court has issued an injunction to stop women from carrying surrogate pregnancies, depriving Israel same-sex couples of the option to begin the pregnancies there.

The injunction, issued last week, came as the court will rule on a petition to ban the process outright in Nepal. The petition argues that surrogacy exploits the bodies of impoverished women, according to Haaretz. The court must respond to the petition within 15 days.

Israel bans surrogate pregnancies within Israel for same-sex couples, causing many to turn to surrogacy in foreign countries. Nepal has emerged as a relatively affordable option for the process, especially as India and Thailand have banned surrogacy. When Nepal suffered a major earthquake in April, several of the Israelis evacuated were couples who had been in the country picking up their surrogate children.

The ruling will not affect couples already in the midst of surrogate pregnancies.

Source: jweekly.com

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Baby Massage: Benefits and Step By Step Guide

Baby Massage is a really delightful way to soothe your baby and to express love and affection to her. It helps to create a strong bonding of you with your baby. But that’s not all, there are some really great benefits of giving massage to baby such as:
  1. Improves digestion and bowel moment in babies,
  2. Better blood circulation in babys body which improves her nervous system and makes her heartbeat and brain activities stable and help in proper growth of baby, 
  3. Ease teething pain that she may be feeling, makes her relaxed & help her to sleep well, 
  4. Help in her physical, mental and social development, etc. 
Step by Step Guide:

Don't try a massage just before or after a meal or when she needs a nap. If your baby seems to be uncomfortable or starts crying during the massage, stop and give her a cuddle instead. Make sure that to find a quite room in which you and your baby will feel comfortable and will not be disturbed. You may play some pleasant music but at low volume so that your baby would be able to hear your voice. Lay down your baby on a towel. You can use baby moisteriser or baby oil for the purpose. You can talk softly, hum or sing to your baby while massaging, which may make the experience comfortable & cheerful for your baby.

The legs: Start with her legs, as they're less sensitive than some other parts of her body because baby is used to of sensation of touching of legs as they are touched during changing nanny. Using a little oil, rub it on palms of your hands & then very gently rub your hand around one of her thighs and pull down, one hand after the other, squeezing gently, as if you're "milking" her leg. Switch legs and repeat.
The feet: Take one foot and gently rotate it a few times in each direction, then stroke the top of her foot from the ankle down to the toes. Switch feet and repeat.

The soles: Use your thumbs to trace circles all over the bottom of each foot.

The toes: To finish off the feet, take each toe between your thumb and forefinger and gently pull until your fingers slip off the end. Repeat for all ten toes.
The arms: Take one of her arms in your hands and repeat the milking motion from her armpit all the way to her wrist. Then, take her hand and gently rotate her wrist a few times in each direction. Switch arms and repeat.

The hands: Trace tiny circles over the palm of each of her hands with your thumbs.

The fingers: Gently take a finger between your thumb and forefinger and pull, letting her finger slip through your grasp. Repeat for all her fingers and both thumbs.

The chest: Place your hands together in prayer position over her heart. Then, opening out your hands slowly, stroke outward and lightly flatten the palms over her chest. Repeat the motion, alternating hands, several times.

The back: Roll your baby onto her tummy and then using your fingertips, trace tiny circles on either side of her spine from the neck down to the hips. Finish with some long, firm strokes from her shoulders all the way to her feet.

The cues baby gives you during massage are really important as they will tell you which strokes she likes and which she don’t and if she starts crying during massage, it could be a sign that she had enough. So when you are finished, put on her nappy and cuddle or breastfeed her. Next time while giving massage to her, try to follow the pattern as baby likes knowing whats coming to them next.

IVF gender selection: More Australian parents-to-be are travelling to the US to pick their baby’s sex

 THE number of Australians travelling to the United States to select the sex of their baby via IVF has doubled in five years, sparking debate about whether the practice should be legalised in Australia.
California-based IVF specialist Dr Daniel Potter now sees about 20 Australian couples a month, most desperate for a baby girl after having multiple sons.
The US fertility expert is in Australia this week to speak about the controversial issue of gender selection as the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) considers changing the guidelines which outlaw the practice here.
Even though it would impact his business, Dr Potter says gender selection should be allowed to take place in Australia.
“It is a reproductive freedom issue,” he told News Corp from California.
“You can have an abortion for whatever reason you want, but if you want to have a child people question why,” he says.
“The technology is safe, it is there, so why not allow people to use it.”
Dr Daniel Potter with Stuart Gent and his daughter Lucy in Melbourne in 2013.
Dr Daniel Potter with Stuart Gent and his daughter Lucy in Melbourne in 2013. Source: News Limited
Dr Potter, who operates the largest fertility clinic on the west coast of the US, says the numbers of Australians who travel to his practice to undergo gender selection has doubled since 2011.
The NHMRC is currently asking for advice on whether it should lift the ban on sex selection, which came into place in 2005.
SHOULD GENDER SELETION BE LEGALISED? Tell us what you think below.
Tereza Hendl, a health science researcher from the University of Sydney, believes it should remain in place and thinks gender selection is an expression of sexism.
“I’m quite critical of it because I think it basically reinforced a binary view of children,” Dr Hendl said.
“A person’s life should not depend on one’s sex, one sex shouldn’t define a person or the traits they develop, they should be given the freedom to have opportunities and be non-conformist,” she said.
The researcher, who has interviewed families who have gone through the gender selection process, says she is concerned children conceived through gender selection grow up feeling pressure to conform to gender stereotypes.
Professor Peter Illingworth supports IVF guidelines being changed in Australia.
Professor Peter Illingworth supports IVF guidelines being changed in Australia. Source: News Limited
But IVF Australia’s medical director Peter Illingworth supports the guidelines being changed, and does not think there would be a flood of couples pursuing gender selection IVF in Australia if that happened.
“I think the demand for this is very small, there are not a lot of couples for which this is a big issue, people are primarily concerned about having a healthy child,” he said.
Associate Professor Illingworth predicted that if NHMRC did change the guidelines there would be no more than a couple of hundred couples each year who would go through IVF just to select the sex of their baby.
He said experience in Australia indicated the demand for boys and girls is evenly balanced, and he rejected arguments that it would be a slippery slope to the creation of designer babies where embryos were picked for their prospective intelligence and looks.
“We are capable of saying we can do one with, without doing another,” he said.
— Gender selection was outlawed in Australia in 2005
— Australians who travel to the US pay about $15,000 per treatment, not including flights and accommodation. Multiple treatments can be required for a successful pregnancy
— About 20 Australian couples a month travel to the US to undergo gender selection
— About 80 per cent of those patients want a girl