Bureaucratic Enquiry

Dr. Subhas Mukhopadhyay discovered the easiest and most successful way of producing a test tube baby. In fact, he was the first Asian to discover such a process but never got his recognition during his lifetime. However, in 2002, after 21 years of his death, ICMR India Council of Medical Research recognised his work for the first time. Some of his remarkable achievements are: Used HMG for ovarian stimulation for IVF; First to use transvaginal approach for ovum pick up; First to cyropreserve human embryos; First to transfer embryo in a subsequent untreated cycle.
Dr. Subhas Mukhopadhyay created history when he became the first physician in India and second in the world after British physicians Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards to perform the In vitro fertilization resulting in a test tube baby “Durga” Kanupriya Agarwal on October 3, 1978. Both Dr. Mukhopadhyay and British scientists Robert G Edwards and Patrick Steptoe — creators of the world’s first test-tube baby — started work at the same time. The Indian baby was born on October 3, 1978, just over two months after Marie Louise Brown was born.
Facing social bureaucratic negligence and insult instead of recognition from the West Bengal government and refusal of the Government of India to allow him passport to attend international conferences, humiliation of transfer to an eye hospital; he committed suicide in his Calcutta residence in 1981.
His feat has been given belated recognition as the Indian physician who in 1986 was “officially” regarded as being the first doctor to perform in-vitro fertilization in India. (extracted from The Untold Story Behind India’s First Test Tube Baby | Scientific Indians.)
Unfortunately Dr. Subhas Mukhopadhyay was employed in a Government hospital. In typical bureaucratic style, on 18 November 1978  a so called ‘expert committee’ was appointed by the Government of West Bengal under the medical association to decide over his claims. His charges were firstly that he claims to be the architect of first human test tube baby named Durga (3 October 1978). Secondly, he announced the report to the media before being cleared by the Government bureaucrats. Thirdly, he made this impossible possible with few general apparatus and a refrigerator in his small southern avenue flat while others cannot even think of it, although, having all the expensive resources in their hand (in this research Dr. Mukhopadhyay was assisted by Sunit Mukherji and S.K. Bhattacharya). Fourth and most important allegation, he never let his head down by the Government Bureaucrats and his straightforwardness always attracted jealousy out of his peers.
The so called expert committee was presided over by a Radio physicist and it was composed of a gynecologist, a psychologist, a physicist and a neurologist. None of them had any knowledge about specialised reproductive technology. “Where did you keep these embryos?” Mukhopahdhyay said “in sealed ampules.” Then he asked again “How did you seal an ampule?” Speechless Mukhopadhyay could only utter “pardon?” From here started a questioning and counter questioning session which need not to be mentioned was utterly meaningless. “Oh! Embryos do not die while sealing?”
Apparently this expert member had never seen embryos his lifetime.   The Committee put forward its final verdict, “Everything that Dr. Mukhopadhyay claims is bogus.”( Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subhash_Mukhopadhyay_%28physician%29)

Inquiry Committee approach is more like our around the corner lay policeman with knowledge about every illegal hawker and trader but complete ignorance about forensics. Throughout the human civilization the same fate has been meted out to every genius who arrived before time. For a genius it is difficult to just live and earn; but it is far more natural to be here and to make a difference. By the way Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhyay, committed suicide on 19th June 1981.
We may hail him today but has any procedure laid down to prevent such calamity on a Government Doctor or employee doing research to improve technology? I do not think so.
Politicians are like children. Only concerned with their toys and play. Oblivious of human beings they are supposed to lead. Just the way it was in Roman Era. Progress in technologies did not result in progressive Humonoids.

(c) Sandeep Bhalla
Typing errors in this post may be attributed to BlackBerry’s spellcheck.


Ethics of Organ donation, blood/plasma/bone marrow donation and surrogacy.

Death is always shocking. Irrespective of age. But death of a young person, in United States is news, not just nationally, but internationally. In countries, where generations of people did not migrate to squat and settle at new lands, problem of over population prevents every death from becoming a news especially when an element of consent can be attached. India and Russia appears to be surrogacy capitals of the world. Organ donation, blood/plasma/bone marrow donation, surrogacy, Sperm/egg donation and what not. The rotation of activities of life are not around living but achieving, becoming or accumulating. Surviving as long as possible can only be next goal and what better use of money can be to buy life even if at the cost of someone else’s life.

Poverty and poor medical conditions

In Indian traditions, motherhood is hailed as reincarnation. A successful delivery of child is treated as rebirth for mother. But that story is for financially comfortable. Poor will sell anything to taste better life and rich will buy anything without hindered by scruples. The recent death of a 30-year-old Indian surrogate mother with two children ought to have given a pause to ponder over the ethics of the international surrogacy market. but so far nothing visible on horizon.

Organ donation is similar story but legally there is a ban on commercial sale of organs. In a recent case Delhi High Court chose to ignore possible past commercial relations between donor and recipient. It observed:

“Merely because in a given case, a near relative may not be willing to donate his or her organ/tissue to the recipient, it is not ground to either raise suspicion of a commercial transaction, or to reject the case altogether. It is not the mandate of the authorization committee to compel or drive the near relative of the recipient to donate their organ/tissue to the recipient ….. the term “payment” under the Transplantation of Human Organ and Tissues Act would not cover a monetary transaction between a donor and recipient in the past when such a transplant was not required….. (Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Love–affection-of-distant-kin-good-enough-for-donation-of-organs–HC/949872/

Only UK has a potential customers of commercial surrogacy worth six billion as reflected from following article:

A combination of the high costs of such surrogacy in the UK, the extremely limited number of willing surrogates, and the legal restrictions on commercial surrogacy in the UK has helped to create a global market in international surrogacy worth, on one recent estimate, about six billion dollars annually. Unlike international adoption, which is subject to strict regulation both in the United Kingdom and abroad, international surrogacy is entirely unregulated at an international level. Certain countries such as India and the Ukraine promote themselves as destinations for gestational surrogacy by providing good quality low cost medical care and by giving legal protection to commissioning parents. (Source: http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed97868)

How poor surrogate mothers are treated in these clinics, is reflected from the following article:

Even though the growth of surrogacy in India is a familiar story, too little is known about how the system actually operates. ………. Even if these people have put their signatures on a piece of paper, has there really been informed consent? One of the consent documents says that the hospital involved has “made sure to the extent humanly possible that he / she / they understand these details and implications”. This does not inspire a lot of confidence. (Source: http://catholicexchange.com/who-cares-indian-surrogate-for-u-s-woman-dies/)

Position about are donor-ships related to bio-organs is no different. so the rich would be consuming the poor with impunity and color of skin would not be a matter of consideration, for a change. Situation is, actually, ‘grotesquely exploitative’. Is it not a new kind of cannibalism. If not, what is it? Just because it has no name, it does not become ethical.

© Sandeep Bhalla