Seven years after she lost her daughter allegedly to complications stemming from ovum donation, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) has taken cognisance of a complaint filed by Pramila Pandey. Fixing the first hearing date in November, the commission has asked the deputy commissioner of police, Zone X, to be present before it. The commission will question the reasons behind the delay in “delivering justice” to Sushma Pandey, who died at the age of 17 years after illegally donating her eggs at an IVF clinic.
In a complaint to the MSHRC, Pandey has claimed that she approached Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) in 2013 with a complaint against Bandra-based Rotunda – The Center for Human Reproduction Fertility Clinic, where Sushma had donated her ova thrice between 2009 and 2010. While the MMC has held at least four hearings in the matter, a decision to whether it amounts to a case of medical negligence on the part of Rotunda’s medical director, Gautam Allahbadia and his staff members, remains pending.
The MMC, currently under the interim charge of its administrator Dr Abhay Chaudhary, is yet to get a fresh board of members to handle the backlog of cases.
On August 10, 2010, two days after donating ovum at Rotunda clinic, Sushma passed away at Rajawadi hospital after complaining of abdominal pain.
Pandey claims she was unaware that her minor daughter was an egg donor and she had posed as Sushma Dube with a fake PAN card that showed her age as 19 years. In her complaint to the MSHRC, she has alleged that the clinic did not follow all safety measures and took no step to verify whether Sushma was eligible for ovum donation.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines state that an egg donor must be above 18 (later revised to 21 years) and less than 35 years of age. The Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulations) Bill and Rules (2009), state that a fertility clinic is supposed to verify the age before registering a donor.
In 2014, the Bombay High Court had pulled up the Mumbai Police for their investigations into the case. In 2015, the Sakinaka Police filed a supplementary chargesheet naming Dr Allahbadia, along with Dr Kaushal Kadam, Dr Gauri Gupta, who conducted the surgery, anaesthetist Dr Hetal Chabria, Dr Kirit Trivedi, and Dr Yogen Bhatt, as accused. An agent, Noorjahan, and Sushma’s former employer have also been named. The case is underway at the Andheri sessions court, although no hearing has taken place.
Sushma had donated her ovum on October 22, 2009, February 15, 2010, and August 8, 2010 before she succumbed to medical complications. According to a report submitted by J J hospital, a rise in hormones led to shock causing her death.
“My daughter got no money in return. She was lured into this without my knowledge. I have been visiting the MMC office and the police station regularly. The case has remained stuck for years now,” Pandey, who resides in Saki Naka, said.
In her one-room flat, a picture of Sushma is placed next to a television set. Sushma’s father, a driver, has lost hope that those responsible would be held accountable. “The director (Allahbadia) has left the country. Other doctors continue to work. What about other minors lured into egg donation for money?” Pandey asked.
According to a human rights commission official, while the MSHRC cannot hold hearings against a private clinic, it can take a decision against government officials, including the MMC officials, for delaying the case. The last hearing in Sushma’s case in the MMC was held in 2015.