DR PANKAJ SHRIVASTAV
Fertility specialist and IVF pioneer
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