She was the nation of India's first test-tube foetus at age 75. Kanupriya Agarwal, 45, is now an IVF advocate.


She was the nation of India's first test-tube fetus at age 75. Kanupriya Agarwal, 45, is now an IVF advocate

The inaugural day of Durga Puja in Kolkata was October 3, 1978. The decision was simple for the Agarwal family, who had not yet considered a name for their newborn. She was the first test tube baby born in India, therefore they appropriately named her Durga. Kanupriya Agarwal, 45, alias Durga, who resides in Mumbai with her husband and nine-year-old daughter, is happy to have been born as India celebrates its 75th birthday. Because it provided ladies the option to become pregnant who couldn't do it naturally. Kanupriya had a spontaneous conception herself.

"In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) is experiencing a surge right now. IVF procedures are like over-the-counter vitamins; occasionally, people choose to use them despite not having a need for them, claims Kanupriya. "It is true that modern women are far more capable than they were. IVF offers them the chance to even select pregnancy, which I believe is fantastic. For women who choose to become mothers later, it is an option. Why should someone not do that? Nothing should prevent me from exercising my right to decide when to have a child if we accept the concepts of freedom of expression and the right to life, asserts Kanupriya.

She was not only the second IVF baby born in the world, but also the first in India. Due to Dr. Subhash Mukherjee's ground-breaking development, Kanupriya was born 67 days after the UK's first of her kind. The doctor was a bright scientist who pioneered research in this technology years ago, but it took decades for his incredible achievement to be acknowledged. This has been a glaring oddity for Kanupriya because she recalls asking for the scientist to be awarded the Bharat Ratna. Without a doubt, there is a political space. Why have a nation's honour medal if brilliant scientists aren't taken into consideration? The first child born in a test tube is just as much of a scientific and medical miracle, she argues. "Dr. Mukherjee had to deal with a number of difficulties and criticism. He yet had a sharp mind and developed practical methods using his own materials. His acceptance is necessary, she asserts.

"It is terrible that there hasn't been much of a change in how scientists are treated over the past 75 years. They need time and money to obtain results that are proven in this competitive market. There is a lot of failure out there, and scientific discoveries are not always easy to achieve. If one is fortunate, they may manage a success tale in their lifetime. To stifle our genius, we must promote and finance research and development. She contends that honouring those like Dr. Mukherjee should be the first step.

"Economic gains are guaranteed by every scientific discovery. India is now regarded as a centre for IVF because of this. Doctors have explained to us how well-respected they are all across the world at conferences I have attended," she says.

There are more than 3,000 IVF centres in the nation, according to Dr. Sanjeev Khurd, who founded Pune's first exclusive infertility centre 35 years ago and served as the society's previous president. 10% of married couples experience infertility problems on average. "In addition to medical concerns, an increase in the marriageable age of women has led to several obstacles for couples considering IVF therapy. Additionally, there are elements associated to stress. But as technology has standardised, opening an IVF clinic is no longer challenging. However, 90% of the smaller centres only perform under 100 IVF cycles, he continues.

Kanupriya remembers questioning her mother Bela about her intense desire for a child. She was a homemaker, so there was no question that the family was mistreating her. But she sensed a gap in her. Both her fallopian tubes and her father's sperm count were poor. It was a two-party issue that sparked discussions regarding male fertility as well, she claims. "Dr. Mukherjee was very honest and straightforward, and he promised to try his hardest. Dad did not want to discuss an unexpected operation with the family. They were useful, and the pregnancy went smoothly. Because I was the first baby born from a test tube, the media flurry that followed my birth caught my father completely off guard. They were quite plain individuals. She relates that he allegedly remarked, "I have a healthy child and what is there to talk about? There is still a lot to discuss since Kanupriya will always give many women cause for optimism.

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