Fer­til­ity spe­cial­ist and IVF pi­o­neer

Friday - - Page Slug -

It was eas­ily one of the most em­bar­rass­ing ques­tions he has ever been asked. ‘I was on a flight a few days af­ter Fri­day had fea­tured me [in the July 12 1998 is­sue] when the woman sit­ting next to me asked: “Are you the doc­tor who gets girls preg­nant?”’ says Dr Pankaj Shrivastav. The ar­ti­cle was on in­fer­til­ity and the doc­tor spoke about how he’s us­ing new tech­nol­ogy to help cou­ples be­come par­ents.

How­ever em­bar­rass­ing the ques­tion was, Dr Shrivastav says, the ar­ti­cle helped spread the word about the work he and his team were do­ing.

‘I re­mem­ber there was a time when we were in­un­dated with phone calls and en­quiries from across the Mid­dle East af­ter the ar­ti­cle was pub­lished,’ he re­calls.

More than the boost in busi­ness, Dr Shrivastav feels the ar­ti­cle went a long way in re­duc­ing the stigma at­tached to in­fer­til­ity and was suc­cess­ful in ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple about the wide­spread prob­lem.

‘When I came to the UAE in 1991, I joined the newly-opened Dubai Gy­nae­col­ogy and Fer­til­ity Centre in Rashid Hos­pi­tal. Un­til then there were hardly any fer­til­ity cen­tres in the coun­try and the num­ber of spe­cial­ist doc­tors was mi­nus­cule,’ he says.

Since it was the pre-in­ter­net era, it was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for Dr Shrivastav and

his team to ed­u­cate peo­ple about the treat­ment avail­able. But over the years, there has been a par­a­digm shift – not only in the public’s per­cep­tion of the is­sue but in the tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment as well.

‘I can proudly claim that my team and I have been in­volved in sev­eral path­break­ing re­search projects that have been ac­knowl­edged by in­ter­na­tional jour­nals.

‘We have also been at the fore­front of some tech­no­log­i­cal break­throughs that have been adopted world­wide in the field of in­fer­til­ity treat­ments,’ says the doc­tor.

Dr Shrivastav set up his clinic in Shar­jah called Con­ceive in 2004 and since then hasn’t looked back.

‘At that time I could not set up a clinic in Dubai as pri­vate fer­til­ity clin­ics were not al­lowed at the time. But that has now changed. There are sev­eral fer­til­ity clin­ics across the emi­rate of­fer­ing a valu­able service. I have now opened a branch in JLT, keep­ing in mind the grow­ing de­mand,’ he says.

His team now in­cludes his el­der daugh­ter Daamini, who looks af­ter the media, mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions side of the busi­ness. He has an­other daugh­ter, Aashini, who is study­ing law, and there are two more mem­bers of the fam­ily – seven-year-old Labrador Coco Chanel and eight-year-old Ha­vanese ter­rier Elvis Pres­ley.

So how many ‘girls has he helped get preg­nant’ over the years?

‘I think I’ve been in­volved in the birth of about 8,000 ba­bies if not more,’ he replies, with a hint of laugh­ter.

Dr Shrivastav had to face some ‘em­bar­rass­ing’ ques­tions af­ter the fea­ture ap­peared

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