Dr. Nandita Palshetkar aspires to help couples achieve their dream of parenthood. She highlights the struggles of women as their lives are constantly controlled by the continuous ticking of the biological clock and reveal that egg freezing is the solution for the existence of ordeals revolving around this clock. Egg freezing is just not an instrument for a safe and healthy motherhood, but also a new-age totem to the freedom of women about their own body and life.
Dr. Palshetkar is one of the pioneers in the IVF clinics of India and has been instrumental in helping over 25000 such couples to achieve parenthood. Her major contributions include the record of being the one to establish the first laser hatched twins in India; and also the distinction of having achieved pregnancy in a 60-year-old woman.
A few years ago a beautiful girl fall in love, she was 40 when she was married. And you know as it’s a dream of every married couple she wanted and waited for a child. Unfortunately, heartbroken. This phase can be a devastating phase in a woman's life. Especially it not only effects the health but also the mental and emotional health of a couple. By the way the women I’m talking about is former Miss World, Diana Hayden. In 2016, Diana delivered this beautiful baby girl, Arya. Diana’s baby girl Arya was from an egg which is preserved for 8 years, when Diana was 34. So How did this happen? I think before going to all the technicalities of vitrification and what it is let me explain to you the biological clock of women. When the child is actually in the womb of the mother you know how many eggs are there? 5-6 million eggs. And when she gets born those eggs become just 1 million, so many eggs were died. At puberty its about 2-5 lac eggs. And mind you at 37 they become just 25 thousands eggs. And when she turns 50 it’s only a thousand eggs. See this is important to grasp because as the women ages it becomes difficult for her to conceive. You know nearly 70% of the people at the age of 40 find difficulty to conceive. Another problem associated with age is also Down syndrome. And this can be prevented today. When the girl is 30 years old she has a chance of having a Down syndrome baby may be in 1 in thousand. But when she turns 40 the chance increases to one in hundred. Then there are other diseases which effect the ovarian reserve which help and prevents and these problems which I’m talking about can be helped by technology. You know like endometriosis, we have endometriosis as a disease which attacks the ovaries the abdominal cavity everywhere. And what it does is reduced the fertility rates, makes it difficult for the patient to get pregnant. Then the other conditions are benign you know cyst adenomas any kind of tumors in the ovary. Multiple surgeries sometimes you know because of the cyst doctors have to do multiple surgeries in the ovary, those are the conditions which are potentially harm the ovary. Another condition that we must remember all of us is cancer. Today in India there is no life after cancer. When cancer is diagnosed people are in shocked, they depressed, and they don’t think that they will be a cancer survival. But I want to put this message today that today cancers are curable. There are a lot of cancers which people fight and lived to tell the tale and I have so many patients who come to me and say that we want a baby, they have just had chemotherapy, radiotherapy. Now the problem with the patients is this that the chemotherapy and the radiotherapy damages the ovaries. So, in these cases what do you do? All these cases you must remember has a solution. But before I go to that can I have an audience some volunteers whose 20 to 21 years old and who would like to just volunteer. Hi ma’am. What’s your name? And could you introduce yourself? So my name is Samiksha and I’m 21 and I’m currently studying biotechnology. Okay. 21 wow! What an age! I love to be that. What is your future plans? I wish to do my post graduation and then maybe MBA. I think today’s generation all wants to do post graduations and MBA is a must. Absolutely. So, then when u planned to get married and have babies. What is the thought process in your mind? Get married at the age of 28 may be and babies after 32. Wow! Okay, so I think today's women all have a kind of a similar plan in their mind. You know they study, want to become independent, it’s so very important. So let’s put Samiksha and take her into two scenarios. one scenario is Samiksha got married, I mean first she gets her degree, gets the fabulous job, people waiting for her, you know young with innovative ideas, they want her, the company wants her and then she finds the man of her dreams. She gets married and after a couple of years they decide to start a family. So samiksha takes her back from her work, she has a baby a couple of years have definitely lost because child bearing then she decides that she wants to have another baby. So in this manner about 5 to 10 years of her life are spend in motherhood. Let’s take the other scenario, samiksha is working and she has decided, she has meet the guy and they both decided that careers are important. She is ambitious, she wants to become the youngest CEO of the company. So she works she gets promotions. You know spends the whole midnight oil working and she becomes the youngest CEO at 40. And then she said okay I have achieved what I want to do and now I have time, I have the money, let me have a baby because she realizes that is the void in her life. And what happens to her, frustration because as I have said before 70% of the people who are the girls who are at the age of 40 face infertility and she is terrified of having a down’s baby . So, what is the solution to all this? What have they lost? One of them have lost her productive years, her budding career, her promotions, travel opportunities and may be a little bit of love and romance and all the humdrum of life. And some women gains some few kilos also. And what is the other girl lost that she wants motherhood that’s desperately. You know its important being of being a woman .and I think its really important that we get hold of both the aspects because today we are woman who want to do something. We have a fire in our belly. So, what is the solution? Technology is offering a solution i.e. egg freezing. I think it’s a fantastic technology and today it is a reality. Imagine I love an ice-cream so I put it away in the fridge in freezer and two months later when I want to feel like eating that particular flavor I opened my fridge and take out that ice cream to satisfy my midnight hunger pangs. Similarly you can stash away your eggs in cold storage and have a baby whenever you want. That much freedom has been given to women by egg freezing. It’s very radical I know very very radical. But what is this technology? This technology is Vitrification. You can see the video on the screen and you know what we do over here the egg is at the body temperature of 37 degree centigrade, we take it on this little straw and we dip it into liquid nitrogen which takes it to minus 196 degree centigrade rapidly. How rapid is the drop in temperature? Minus 20 thousand degrees per minute and that change in technology has resulted in those egg surviving. It’s so rapid that there is no ice crystals and today with this technology the survival of the eggs is 97% to 99% and that’s why this technology can be used. So if you look at those patients with low ovarian reserve because of endometriosis because of cancer, chemotherapy drugs radiotherapy is toxic to the ovary. So all these girls before undergoing therapy can freeze their eggs. The next question you asked is like you know is it very expensive? But let’s take any middle income family. Don’t you invest 1lac rupees in a car today, the car is a necessity of your life. Right! So then why not invest in this project. It’s your fertility insurance. It’s the insurance for having safe future generations. I think it may sound very ambitious and very far fudge to everyone all. But awareness is what is important and if we spread this awareness it will become more popular and more and more people will go for it and when there are more people giving this service I think the technology will become affordable. Do you remember how expensive the smart phones were? When it came? Today they are available for pit ants. I think the same is the thing about any technology. The more it becomes popular definitely it become more affordable. Reproduction is the virtue of persistent of life. And we must use our capabilities like egg freezing to aid this virtue. You know yesterday I was at at the airport and this young woman came running to me and hug me. I looked at her, she said, doctor thank you so much, I was your patient who froze my eggs five years ago with you. And today I’m boarding a flight to Chandigarh to marry the man of my choice. But in the meantime of five years what I did was I went abroad started a startup and sold it to millions. She is saying because she is having my eggs with you frozen I was not worried of finding the Mr. Right. And now I’m going to Chandigarh and I’m getting married and if I have problems I know I can come back to you and have a baby . You gave me freedom. I think all the woman, actually I’m getting goose bumps, all the women should have this freedom, this independence to think about what they want in life. Because we are all multi-tasking. Times are changing now and definitely we need to change with it. Look at Diana Hayden today. She is happy, she has evolved and what has she become. You know something she may be probably the world’s first woman to freeze eggs for social reasons as far as back in 2007. That time this was experimental and used for cancer patients. So she has become not only you know not only motivational speaker and she is talking about it and she really tells me that every time when we tell please get married you are getting old she said what I did was right and I found my person of my dreams at the age of 40. So friends what I have just like to say is it’s not just about the natures demand but for humanity and for love.
I think this idea is worth spreading.