S.A.F.A.L. Test Tube Baby IVF Clinic
DR. WIJAHAT KAREEM M.B.B.S., M.S., F.I.C.S., F.I.C.M.C.H. Consultant surgeon & Laparoscopy surgeon DR. (MRS.) SURHEETA KAREEM Director M.B.B.S,M.S., F.I.C.M.C.H., F.I.A.G.E.S Laparoscopy & infertility Specialist
When did you start SAFAL? This centre SAFAL (Star Advanced Fertility and Laparoscopy) started in 2005. It was established with the help of expert team of doctors of national and international repute. Initially, it was supported by Dr. Narendra Malhotra and Dr. Jaideep Malhotra from Agra.
How did you choose this particular branch of medicine? During my medical education, the area of infertility was very new and I developed a keen interest in it. After attending a conference on this subject I was fascinated by it and thought it was like a miracle for infertile couples to get children of their own.
How far do you think you have succeeded in your endeavour? I think I have achieved success in my endeavour and now only some fine-tuning is required. With the availability of latest, high-tech equipment, that too shall be achieved soon. Earlier, people of this region used to go to Delhi for this facility but now it is available here. In- cidentally a large number of belonging to this region are working or living abroad therefore it is easier for them to come home and get this facility in their home region, since they cannot visit other places frequently. Besides, it is highly satisfying to be able to bring new technology to the masses. Since the cost of equipment and technology is more or less the same everywhere, we have made it affordable by keeping the fees of experts on the lower side.
What motivates you in this field? I had opened a multi-specialty hospital in 1988 and in the early years of my profession, I wanted something new in terms of technology to provide relief to patients. In 1997 the laparoscopic technique was introduced. My husband & I underwent laproscopic training under Prof. Stelter to Frankfurt, Germany. I was fortunate to have obtained my ART training under the able guidance of the legendary Dr B.N. Chakraborty. I also attended a conference in Hinduja Hospital which further stoked my interest.
Is IVF difficult to go through from a patient’s perspective? There is much greater awareness about this technique among the patients and the cost too is not much of a consideration. However, in the region where I am located, transport is a major problem. Therefore, I have introduced a pickup and drop facility to facilitate my patients.
What is the kind of care a patient can expect at SAFAL? At our centre we have an ICU and a Neo-natal NICU with ventilators and other back-up. The NICU is a high-tech facility where even premature babies or those born after 7 or eight months of pregnancy are taken care of. A paediatrician on call, incubators and other support services are also available.
You have seen the birth of many IVF babies so far. Can you share a few memorable cases? There was a very interesting case when a baby was born in seven months and he weighed only 786 grams. With highly specialized care he not only survived but is a healthy seven-year-old now. In another case, there was a man whose first wife could not conceive because both her tubes were blocked. He then married a second time but the second wife already had two children and had had her tubectomy done. The man was devastated. But then it was so managed that with the first wife’s egg, the second wife acted as surrogate and a child was born. He is now three years old, and calls the two women as his ‘Mummy’ and ‘Badi Mummy.’
What are the most important changes in technology in the last few years? It is now possible for infertile couples to become parents at any age. Interestingly, for many couples in a certain age group IVF has become the first option of attaining parenthood. Further, many of those in the 30-35 year age group are now coming forward to derive the benefit of this technology.
Do you believe the success rate would improve in view of such changes? Yes, I believe it will certainly improve. Infertility is traditionally linked with disappointment. This problem is created up to 40% due to deficiency in male and 40% due to deficiency in female and 20% is unexplained, maybe the result of modern changing life style and excessive use of alcohol, uses of masticatory habits, late night working etc. But now, with the latest techniques from all over the world, male and female infertility has been reduced to a greater extent.
What is the biggest hurdle of making ART available for the masses? The financial aspect, easy availability of the technique and proper patient care are most important.
Do you think the government should help infertile couples? The treatment for infertility should also be made available in government hospitals. The exclusion of such treatment from the ambit of insurance cover is also a big disadvantage.
What special facilities do you offer patients seeking ART procedures at SAFAL? In SAFAL all types of Infertility treatment are done like IVF, IUI, ICSI and Embryo Freezing etc. Facilities offered include intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, infra cytoplasmic sperm injection, intrauterine insemination, embryo freezing, semen banking, oocyte bank, blastocyst culture, assisted laser hatching, egg and embryo donation and patient education and counseling. Also available are Semen Analysis to know the reproductive capacity of males; Semen Culture to know the effect of sperm quality due to presence of any type of bacteria; test of female to know the quality and number of eggs, rupturing and the time of their maturity at which they come out of ovary; test of hormone in blood; ultrasound; Endometrial Biopsy; Hysterosalpingograph, Sonosalpingography; Laparoscopy and Hysteroscopy; IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination); IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) and ICSI - Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection.
After helping so many distressed couples, how do you unwind to take on another challenging day? Myself and my husband Wijahat Kareem are movie buffs. My husband is also a noted film producer. We share this interest in movies and this helps me relax and get rid of all my stress.