The death of an Indian girl who had been donating eggs only two days before she died is set to shine a spotlight on the use by wealthy Western couples of eggs from young women from the developing world.
The girl, Sushma Pandey, who was 17, died two years ago today. Hospital records also indicate that she was admitted there on August 8, 2010, at 8.30 am and discharged the same day at 7.30 pm. The next day, she complained of abdominal pain. On August 10, 2010, she died.
Her post-mortem report stated she had "one abrasion, four contusions and a blood clot in the head, plus six injection marks" as well as "congestion in the ovaries and uterus." The possible cause of her death was listed as shock due to multiple injuries.
Now, campaigners are saying that the death may have been linked to her attendance at the clinic, and are pointing out that the case is just one example of the risks faced by young women who donate eggs.
In a press release, the Centre for Bioethics and Culture (CBC)said that the case highlighted the dangers posed by “invasive egg removal procedures, which masquerade under the lie of donation”.
The statement said: “These transactions are anything but 'donations' as young females -- nearly children themselves -- all over the world, desperately fall prey to offers of money like those made to Ms. Pandey.”
The CBC also pointed out that regulation, which has been called for by many in the Indian medical profession would do nothing “to protect young women who seek to 'donate' their eggs because they are in desperate need of money”.
“Regulated exploitation is still exploitation -- using young women as egg farms for affluent westerners wanting children,” the statement said.
Kathleen Sloan, a special consultant to the (CBC) added that the list of known health dangers to women who provide their eggs was extensive.
Sloan said that the list included Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, estrogen (linked to breast and uterine cancers, heart attack, stroke, and blood clots), and progesterone they are injected with; ovarian torsion; and kidney disease.
Sloan said: “How many more women will have to die before India and the United States, the two countries where the out of control fertility industry is allowed to endanger and exploit women unimpeded, take action? No country can claim to respect women's human rights while simultaneously turning them into commodities subject to life-threatening harms."
Ms Pandey had been going to ‘Rotunda — The Centre for Human Reproduction’ in Mumbai as an egg or oocyte donor, and had visited the hospital in February 2009, October 2009 and possibly February 2010. .
Senior Police Inspector Samadhan Dhanedhar said police in Mumbai were waiting for the report of a committee of J J Hospital doctors to decide their next course of action. “We have sought the report to find out whether or not we can proceed against the hospital in a case like this. We are expecting the report soon.”
The Rotunda centre confirmed that Sushma had donated eggs thrice. However, Goral Gandhi, Vice-President of operations at the clinic, said she had registered with them as Sushma Dubey.
In an email, Mr Gandhi said: “As per our SOPs, the PAN card is taken as the proof of age. When she first approached us in February 2009, she showed us a PAN card which reflected her age as 19 years.
“Subsequently we were informed by the police that she had produced a fake PAN card and withheld her correct name and age. We were advised by the police to keep a copy of all egg donors’ PAN cards, which we are now following.”