The fertility tourists

July 30, 2008

The ads are brazen: ‘healthy young women – superovulated exclusively for you!’. The fees are half those of UK clinics (‘flights and hotel included!’). And the industry is unregulated, leaving doctors free of legal and ethical constraints. No wonder more and more Europeans are going to India for fertility treatment. Raekha Prasad reports in The Guardian:

Ekatrina Aleksandrova, 42, flew to India for fertility treatment

Ekatrina Aleksandrova, 42, flew to India for fertility treatment

At the end of last year, Ekaterina Aleksandrova boarded a plane in London and flew to Mumbai. It wasn’t her first trip there – she is a management consultant and often goes abroad on business. But this time she went to have five embryos implanted in her womb. A couple of days later she flew back to Europe. While on business in Hong Kong in January, she discovered she was pregnant with just one embryo.

For Aleksandrova, 42, this was the culmination of a six-year struggle to become a mother. She divorced at 29, and hadn’t been in a serious relationship since she was 34. “I always wanted to have a child but the men kept saying, ‘Why don’t we travel?’” she says. “It wasn’t that I was obsessed with my career, I just couldn’t get men to be a father.”

First, she tried to adopt in Germany, where she holds citizenship, but that didn’t work out. Then, in 2004, she moved to the UK to take advantage of this country’s more liberal attitude to single women who need IVF. She spent £18,000 in less than three years, trying and failing to conceive at a private Harley Street clinic. When she finally conceived in India, Aleksandrova was in a state of “shock and disbelief”.

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