The successful posthumous artificial insemination with husband's sperm (AIH), the first such procedure in India, has an overjoyed mother saying that her husband is born again as her son.
Puja, a 32-year-old nurse in a Kolkata hospital has given birth to a son, two years after her husband's death through AIH procedure using her husband Rajib's sperm that was preserved in a sperm bank by infertility expert Dr Baidyanath Chakrabarty.
Puja and Rajib who fell in love and married, had started infertility treatment in 2003 and had decided to have a child through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Rajib's sperm was preserved in a sperm bank as part of the procedure but unfortunately Rajib died in 2006 of food poisoning before the treatment could be fully implemented.
Puja recalls, "He ate stale crabmeat and collapsed overnight. My world came crashing down.† He had never been ill, he was so healthy. I was inconsolable, life seemed a terrible burden."
Overcome with grief Puja withdrew into a shell for the next two years while still struggling to cope with her husband's loss. It gradually dawned on her that Rajib's sperm samples remained in the bank and that she could still have his child.
Dr. Chakrabarthy, whom she consulted said, "I was flummoxed when she approached me requesting the use of his sperm for a pregnancy. Though I knew it was possible, I was unsure about its legal implications."
About the consultations with lawyers that followed, the doctor said,† "I wanted to make sure that the child does not suffer in any way. He should have all legal rights as it would be a legitimate child of the couple."
The National Guidelines of Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) that is currently being transformed into a Bill to be enacted to regulate IVF procedures clearly stated, "A child born to a woman artificially inseminated with stored sperms of her deceased husband is legitimate."†
Following nearly two years of consultations and medical treatment, Puja conceived and delivered a son three months ago.
Says Puja, "I want to shout and tell the world that I have got back a reason to live, that my husband is back with me. My husband's family has been very supportive but they advised me not to tell the world. I don't want my child to be insulted in any way." She added, "After all, science may have progressed, but mentalities have not."
According to Radheshyam Sharma, deputy director of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), which prepared the Bill, this is the first recorded case of posthumous AIH in the country. "There is no record of AIH with ICMR," said Sharma who heads the ART division. "But it is perfectly legitimate."