Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Designer Baby

The Designer Baby Factory: Eggs From Beautiful Eastern Europeans, Sperm From Wealthy Westerners And Embryos Implanted In Indian Women

There is an apartment whose peeling walls are decorated with photographs of adoring mothers nursing their babies.

The woman cooing at her child in the biggest portrait is beautiful, white and affluent-looking — in stark contrast to the flat’s five residents, four of whom are pregnant, while the other is in the hope she will soon conceive.

This forlorn place is a care home for surrogate mothers —Wyzax Surrogacy Consultancy, which is cashing in on India’s first “one-stop shop for outsourced pregnancy”.

Just a job: The leaflet that is given to prospective surrogate mothers - the company Wyzax ensures the childbearers don't become too attached though.

According to this Delhi- based agency’s whizz-kid young bosses, Vivek Kohli  and Jagatjeet Singh, they do this for a small but growing number of clients- about 15 per cent- who, for various reasons, don’t wish to use Indian eggs or an Indian fertility clinic.

For all their apparent desperation to start families, these ‘IPs’, or intended parents, have also become ever-more demanding in their specifications; many want babies who emanate from a gene pool which maximises the possibility that they will not only resemble them but have, say, blond hair and blue eyes .

Kohli and Singh have therefore devised a ‘protocol’ that works roughly like this: after careful screening for genetic illnesses and an IQ test, attractive young female egg donors from countries such as Ukraine, Lithuania, Georgia, Armenia and Belarus are advertised in an online catalogue for prospective parents to browse.

In Eastern Europe, there are all too many hard-up women willing to endure fertility treatment, a long flight to California or Boston, and an uncomfortable operation under anaesthetic to sell their eggs for up to £750 a batch.

And as human eggs cannot be frozen and transported, and there are few surrogacy clinics or wombs available for rent in Eastern Europe, these donors travel, at the height of their monthly cycle, to India, where the eggs are extracted and fertilised with the father’s sperm.

This is a Delhi based surrogacy consultancy that imports frozen embryos  produced from egg donors and sperm in different parts of the world

They are so needy  to feed, clothe and educate their own families that they are prepared to risk being shunned by their husbands and communities for a fee of up to £4,000; an amount they wouldn’t earn in ten years working in their traditional jobs as domestic servants. All they need do to reap this vast sum — or so these often illiterate souls are told when they make agreements often put together by shady fixers — is to lie around watching TV all day, eating nutritious food they would never ordinarily be able to afford, and be dosed with vitamins and hormones.

How does it feel to be carrying a child destined to be removed from her and handed to a foreign couple she will never meet, I ask 25-year-old surrogate Pakhi, whose much older husband recently died of a heart attack, leaving her to care for their five-year-old daughter in penury.

An increasing proportion of clients are gay couples

Like all the major players in the lucrative surrogacy industry — the fertility gurus, recruitment agents, and egg donor companies — Wyzax is flourishing for a variety of reasons that make India the destination of choice for many western couples.

Whereas commercial surrogacy is illegal in most European countries, including Britain, in India it is not only permitted but tacitly encouraged and regulated only by an ill-enforced code of practice, not by law. A new surrogacy bill is being discussed, but is years away from the statute books.
Starting at just £15,000, package prices for a baby here are also up to five times cheaper than in the United States.

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