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First surrogate child of single father to evolve ethics debate

Subhra Priyadarshini in Kolkata
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October 03, 2005 18:32 IST

In the country's first case of a surrogate child conceived for a single father, a city-based infertility clinic handed over the infant to its proud parent in Kolkata Sunday evening.

The pioneering case would help "evolve" medical ethics surrounding rights of single parents, in-vitro fertilisation experts said.

The child was born at a south Kolkata nursing home to a surrogate mother.

A 46-year-old chartered acountant Amit Banerjee donated his sperm to be fertilised by a second surrogate woman after which the embryo was placed in the womb of the first woman.

Banerjee and his doctor Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar are ecstatic.

"In my 25 years of experience in IVF techniques, this is the first time a man has come forward with a wish to father a child. This is a trend-setting example of single fatherhood in the country," Ghosh Dastidar told PTI.

The IVF expert, a pioneer of the technology in India, said though no regulations existed as far as single fatherhood through Assisted Reproductive Technology was concerned, the case would start a process of evolution for framing of laws guiding it at the national level.

"One cannot deny the right of procreation to a married adult, who unfortunately in this case was divorced. But he is financially stable to support a child and has a family that is more than willing to bring the child up," he said.

"Moreover, what about a child whose mother dies on the delivery bed?" he asked.

Banerjee came to the clinic with a normal sperm count and an earnest desire to father a child.

An oocyte donor was counselled to donate eggs, which were collected by ultrasound guided aspiration and simultaneously a second woman, acting as surrogate, was prepared for cycle synchronisation with the sperm donor.

The fertilised embryo was transferred to the uterus of the surrogate mother who conceived the baby in due course.

"He was a perfect candidate for ART. As a physician I could not deny him the available technology that hundreds of childless couples are opting to fulfill the dreams of a family," Ghosh Dastidar said.

"The pre-requisite for single parenthood through ART is marriage, which Banerjee fulfilled," the doctor, who is a member of the national committee set up to frame guidelines for ART clinics in India, said.

The guidelines for ART is laid out by the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Academy of Medical Sciences.

The guidelines say a child born through surrogacy will have to be adopted by the genetic parent(s) unless they could establish through DNA fingerprinting that the child was theirs/his/hers.

It says, "The question is how does an ART clinic respond as a part of society to such situations (single parenthood)?"

"How would our society treat babies born out of wedlock? One must remember that India is a country where the cult of eunuchs has been socially accepted for centuries. Can our country absorb these new types of parents?"

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