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Looking for the right sperm?
Here's a look into the
kind of services that Cytochem, the semen bank at Tilak Road offers.
Shocking as it may sound, a few years ago, the semen
samples that came for regular testing at the pathology labs in the city were taken and
used for artificial insemination. No tests were done to check for HIV and venereal
diseases. Neither was one sure if the sperm sample had enough motile (alive) sperms for
fertilisation with the egg.
The request for sperm samples became so frequent that Drs.
Milind Mirashi and Pravin Thakar decided to extend their laboratory to include a bank
where sperm samples could be frozen and quality controlled; so that tested samples could
be made available to infertile couples of the city. Cytochem, Pune's first and only sperm
bank was established in 1992. Explaining the rising number of requests for these samples,
Dr.Thakar says, "Ten to fifteen percent of Indian couples face infertility, and in
most cases, the cause is the husband's inadequate sperm count."
Artificial Insemination by the Donor is a simple procedure whereby a woman whose husband
has no sperms in his semen or has
sub-fertile sperms, is inseminated with a semen sample . For rupees four hundred, getting
quality samples so close to home is like a miracle for the couples." Other than the
quality of the samples, the time factor is extremely important in infertility
cases." notes Dr.Thakar.
A woman undergoing treatment has to
be artificially inseminated exactly on the fourteenth day of the cycle or within
twenty-four hours of ovulation. Otherwise, she would lose an entire cycle and would have
to prolong her treatment to the next one. Since the infertility treatment costs a
lot for the patient, availability of samples at any given time of the day and month is of
great importance, a requirement that the lab fulfills. Dr. Thakar explains the procedure
of freezing samples, "After three days of abstinence, donors are asked to give
the semen samples . The donors are strictly screened, their family history is looked into and they
are questioned about any history of illness so as to prevent transmission of hereditary
diseases. A record of physical characteristics and blood groups are maintained so that it
can later be matched with the recipient couple."
for HIV, VDRL and Hepatitis B are carried out and the tests are repeated after three months
so as to ensure that the samples are positively free from diseases. According to
the doctors, what they say is complicated and difficult in this business, is to get the
donors to give their samples. "Donors have to be made aware of the
psychological problems of the couple under treatment. The trauma they undergo and the
society's attitude to them to make them realize that the act of donating a sample will go
a long way in bringing happiness in someone's life," emphasizes
He continues, "It should also
be clear to the donor that complete secrecy will be maintained regarding his
identity. Once the donor signs a consent form, the information is fed into the computer in
a coded form, accessible only to the two doctors." Dr. Sunita Tandulwarkar,
gynaecologist who has been regularly taking samples from the lab opines, "The success
rate for my patients (with no female infertility factor) is as high as sixty to seventy
percent after I started taking the samples from Cytochem." Remarks like these have
been a big boost to the work done in the lab. The duo have simultaneously started storing
samples for patients who have been prescribed to undergo treatments like chemotherapy or
radio therapy, so that the samples can be used later by their wives when they want to
concieve. (Dr.Pravin Thakar and Dr. Milind Mirashi can be contacted on 4475580)
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