Four out of the 27 surrogate babies born at Akanksha infertility centre in Anand district of Gujarat since the nationwide lockdown was enforced on March 25 are yet to be with their biological parents. These four babies, include a pair of twins born to a couple based in Mumbai, a baby boy from Kolkata and baby girl from Bengaluru — all of whom are around three weeks old now.
While the couple from Kolkata has started by road to Anand to take custody of their baby boy, the couple from Mumbai and Bengaluru are yet to receive government permission for travel. On May 5, The Indian Express reported that 17 of the 27 babies born during the lockdown at the Akanksha Infertility Centre were stranded as their biological parents were unable to reach them due to travel restrictions.
Akanksha Hospital had the biggest number of surrogate babies stranded at a single facility in the state. Following the report published in this newspaper, the couple from Pune, which has seen a large number of Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, were able to travel to Anand to take custody of their daughter, born by the end of March.
The couple told this newspaper that the joy of having been united with their little girl was inexplicable. “A few days later (after the story was published), we got necessary permissions to travel to Anand. My wife and I left immediately as we had waited too long. Our daughter has already turned six weeks old and we have missed out on the first month of her life. It is something we will regret but we want to look at the positive things now. She is with us and we feel blessed beyond measure,” said the 40-year-old father. The couple had been married for 12 years.
Dr Nayna Patel of Akanksha Hospital said, “We are so happy that the parents were able to reach and take their children. The Pune couple had a permission valid for three days and so they came and returned in a day with the baby. Others who came from farther areas are in quarantine along with their babies. The couple from Kolkata is on their way by road and they have decided to stay in Gujarat for at least a month before travelling back given the distance they will have to cover with the baby. The administration of Anand district has been helpful.”
Dr Patel also said that the hospital saw a 28th surrogate baby being born in mid-May — commissioned by an Indian-origin couple based in Dubai. “The parents could reach as there’s no air connectivity. But they have a close relative living in Anand and they authorised the family to take custody of the baby girl as guardians until they arrive in India,” Dr Patel said.
The four babies awaiting the arrival of their biological parents continue to be in the hospital nursery.
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