Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rubbery figures

In my four years of experience with surrogacy in India (and IVF with my own body prior to that) one thing all parents-to-be want to know is a clinic's statistics. Let's face it, the paying consumer is going to spend a lot of money on IVF and wants results. Fair enough.

With surrogacy in India I have seen success rates quoted anywhere from 50 per cent to a whopping 90 per cent. Four years ago I took it upon myself to collate success rates for pregnancy, miscarriage, with self-cycles, FET, egg donor cycles - all separated into neat little groups so I was comparing like with like. If I was to work with any clinic I wanted to make sure the success rates they were quoting were, in fact, correct. I didn't want to simply accept a clinics "guesstimate" especially given there is no formal body in India that requires clinics to report their statistics, and even if there was, there is certainly no auditing system for statistics quoted by clinics anywhere in the world.

Last week I came upon this little PR spiel for surrogacy in India from the folks over at www.worldofsurrogacy.com - a US agent promoting surrogacy in India.


Success rates, as in live take home baby rate quoted by Crystal, WOS owner, was 10 per cent.

What? a 10 per cent chance of taking a baby home? As stated by Crystal, each year 25,000 Americans seek surrogacy services in India and 2500 take babies home.


Now where on earth did those figures come from? US Embassy doesn't give out statistics on the number of surrogacy citizenship applications; Travisa doesn't give statistics about how many Americans  apply for visa for surrogacy each year. Certainly no person would get actual statistics from each and every clinic in India offering surrogacy services in India.

Why on earth would a surrogacy agency quote such low statistics? It makes no sense. I have no comment about any motivation for anyone giving such rubbish figures, but can assure anyone considering surrogacy in India, no way do 25,000 American go to India each year for surrogacy and it is very doubtful 2500 Americans take home babies each year. Success rates across all clinics are much higher, so do your research, ask lots of people about their experience, how many tries it took them to get pregnant, the average they spent, and ask this from a wide variety of sources, not just the clinic itself.


crystal said...

I never stated that it was ten percent, I only stated what the embassy has said about the numbers of people coming to India from the US for surrogacy. Many doctor's as you know use more than one surrogate when intended parents pursue surrogacy abroad.

The underbelly of surrogacy will come out because many doctors as well as intended parents are coming forward with their stories and the realities of surrogacy in third world countries whether it is India or the Ukarine. Just because you may not agree with the stats doesn't mean you have the right to blog in a negative fashion about people.

In the words of Dr. Maya Angelou, "When people know better they do better."

Amani (Meg) said...

Crystal, go back and listen to what you said: 25,000 Americans go to India for surrogacy each. 2500 bring home babies. can we agree on that? Did US embassy give you these figures?

You can bleat on about the underbelly of surrogacy all you like, please keep in mind my beautiful children were born through surrogacy in India, as were yours. So why continue to promote the negatives? Is this a clever marketing ploy on your part, tell everyone how bad it is in India so come to my agency and I will make sure you are not ripped off?

Yes, I have every right to blog my opinion, positive or negative, the same as you have every right to appear in US media and present a terrible picture of surrogacy in India. Your gratitude astounds me!

Makes no sense to me, only you know why you continue to do this.

Anonymous said...

The figures Crystal is quoting are all wrong and are to sensationalise her story. In India approx 100,000 to 120,000 IVF cycles are done per year. This includes both fresh and frozen transfers. This is a consensus of people working in the field and others involved inclusing those in MNCs who provide the equipments. It is beyong ridiculous that 25,000 of this is for Americans doing Surrogacy. The number of clinics that Americans go to is not more than 100 in India for surrogacy. Each clinic cannot have 250 cycles a year, figures are just false. The number of babies being born by surrogacy is not 2500 for US. Its less than 250. The American Embassy in India and also the Government Authorities in India will be informed of this. This was discussed by the panelists and is an attempt to malign the reputation of IVF clinics and surrogate agencies in India. Is someone looking to go to Panam or Mexico? Then why not sing prises of these countires. Why do this by drumming up fake figures for India?

Anonymous said...

Not only Panama, or Mexico, but Thailand and Ukraine as well.

Australians alone in 2019, 91 Babies were born, 2011 there were 254, and 251 in the FIRST HALF of 2012.

2013 will be even bigger judging by the number of blogs. Just see how many babies are appearing on the SCI blog.

Brooklyn Couple said...

Meg, I totally agree with you on this. 10% does not sound right. The numbers you gave me when we were starting sound right to me. Almost all the SCI clients that I have been in touch with from the beginning have become pregnant one way or another (most within 1-3 tries) granted most are using egg donors.

Anonymous said...


Why do you doubt 25K American cycles?? By your own admission the arithmetic works. Let's extrapolate from the figures you have given concerning Australian surrogacy, which is similar to what is happening to America, although it's generally understood that Americans are the #1 customers for Indian surrogacy. Hopefully we are not arguing that point.

So you state that 250 Aussie babies were born in first half of 2012. By virtue of that little fact, we can assume 500 Ozians were born in all of 2012, yes?

Ok, the generally accepted IVF success rate for pregnancy worldwide is 41%. That is pregnancy, not live birth. For live birth the rate is 32%, which includes FETs, fresh transfers, old eggs, good eggs, every combination you can imagine.

So, if 32% of attempts yields 500 beautiful bangra-Aussie babies, that means it took 1562 attempts by Aussies to get those 500 babies. Yes, agreed?

Population of US: 350,000,000
Population of Oz: 22,000,000

So, there are 16 Americans for each Aussie.

If we take the 1562 number and multiply by 16 we get:


Crystal - you were off by 8!!!

Let's not even begin to factor in the "spillage" rate by Indian clinics that are pulling the wool over their overly-trusting Western clients' eyes. Crystal is doing people a service by warning them of the potential issues; one can never be too cautious when working with Indian surrogacy clinics.

Amani (Meg) said...

Dude, before you get too excited about your new calculator ...

I never said 25,000 CYCLES, said I doubt 25,000 Americans, go to India each year for surrogacy. Big difference between cycles and Americans ...

No idea if Americans are the no 1 customers of surrogacy in INdia, that was certainly not the case with SCI, may be different elsewhere.

I didn't state Aus 250 babies were born in the first half of 2012. Double your faulty figure and you get 500 - SCI has 550 babies born since 2009 - you are making shit up.

Crystal is doing a great service, Indian surrogacy is just awful!!! As Crystal knows, it only worked for her three times : ) Worked so well she asks people to pay her money so she can send them to India for surrogacy, but then bags it in media ...

God, what is in the US water these days?

Anonymous said...

Hi Meg, I am so sorry to learn of this gratutious riff about statistics and the reportage from Crystal. Yes, the Indian government's handling of the visa regulations has cast a bit of a shadow over the surrogacy industry in India. But there are great many world-class IVF-ART clinics in the country doing a fabulous job. They are helping fulfill a deep social, and medical, need around the world. Let us not tarnish them all with one disdainful brush. The statistics for newborns at SCI speak for themselves. You are so correct when you ask "...please keep in mind my beautiful children were born through surrogacy in India, as were yours. So why continue to promote the negatives?"

Anonymous said...

PS - when a US national sends a wire transfer overseas, it is recorded by a national database or by the bank that sends it. A lot of data mining goes on behind the scenes to analyze the destination country, the sender, the recipient etc. If recipient is ".... IVF Clinic" in India or any other word combination, then it's obvious where the money is going. You ask how can the US government possibly know; well THEY KNOW. As does your government as well. As the saying goes; follow the money trail..

Anonymous said...

Right on Meg ...what is in the US water these days? No way that 25000Americans are headed to India for surrogacy in a year.

Amani (Meg) said...

LOL, best laugh I've had for weeks. Insert twilight zone music here and watch your back for Big Brother ... is it 1984 yet?

Anonymous said...

Come on Anonymous, give us break!!! The American government has nothing better to do than track e bank transfers to IVF clinics from zillions of wire transfers around the the world to figure out how many American nationals are headed to India for surrogacy. Is it the Federal Reserve in New York that is compiling these figures ? When was the US banking system advised of this mandatory reporting requirement? Is it the CBI that is on the baby case ? PLEASE !!!

Anonymous said...


25,000 Americans is a 'conservative' number in fact. Yes, Americans are the #1 nationality for surrogacy services in India. I'm surprised, since you are such a subject-matter-expert that you didn't know this. There is one hotel in Mumbai alone that houses at least 100 Americans a day that are in Mumbai for surrogacy services. I will not mention who that is as it's none of my business really. But NOTE: the combined PROCESSING POWER OF ALL US CONSULATES AND EMBASSIES IN INDIA for surrogacy births is, give and take, about 3000 babies per year. So, 25K cycles, max processing 3K, you do the arithmetic. I don't think people pull numbers out of a hat, that's not how America operates.

I think you owe Crystal an apology or at the very least admit that perhaps you don't have the full picture here - because we know you wouldn't lower yourself to apologize to anyone. You perhaps only see a small "slice" of the picture and this is why surrogacy advocates are recommending extreme caution when engaging these services. Above all else, report to your embassy or consulate what you are doing, or have done, regardless of the outcome. This is not the time to advocate a "baby in each pot" - just because you got lucky - especially with all the unscrupulous players out there in this market currently.

Yes, we know you think SCI is right up there with the Vatican in terms of ethics - that's great for you and Dr Shivani - but you shouldn't think that is the case with all clinics, nor should you give that impression to readers.

Amani (Meg) said...

The truth is out there ...

Amani (Meg) said...

Jon, go get a conspiracy theory up ya!

Tigerlilycat said...

"There is one hotel in Mumbai alone that houses at least 100 Americans a day that are in Mumbai for surrogacy services" - seriously?!? We met ONE other couple in our hotel in 5 trips to Mumbai in 2008 and 2009. Granted, that was before the peak which appeared to solely occur in Delhi by reading blogs and discussion boards. I don't doubt there are many fantastc clinics still doing fantastic work, but no-one mentions them.

And there weren't 91 Australian births in 2009. Our two were born in late August and we were in the first 10 Aussie IPs to have success. I've already informed non-profit group Surrogacy Australia that this number is wrong and appears to be all births in that year, not just new Aussies. Damn rubbery figures again..

Anonymous said...

Presuming that Ms. Travis's statistics are accurate, it should not be difficult at all to provide a citation. While it is likely that some doctors inflate their statistics, etc... It seems odd to me that a business woman who purports herself to be an advocate for surrogacy seems to have such a difficult time actually providing accurate, professional information.

P.S. Crystal. A misnomer is calling someone or something by one name when it is in fact something else. Like you calling yourself a professional. The statement you were probably trying to make was something more like: Contrary to what they might hope, the vast majority do not come home with babies.

Edward said...

I'm feeling a little nostalgic.

Although it's been YEARS, it seems like just yesterday that those who benefited from big bad scary India to create their own families were creating a fresh batch of bullshit on a regular basis trying to influence and scare while making a few bucks on the fringes.

All these years later and the general theme STILL seems to be to 'do as I say...not as I did!'

Let them say whatever they want.

Eventually, the spotlight will scorch a media whore!

Anonymous said...

With our first try we now have a 3 year old. We did three subsequent attempts, 2 negative and 1 positive but lost twins in 2nd trimester. We´ve let go of having siblings. To speak about IVF results in India, it has to be done comparatively both with results, economics, time and emotion (like USA vs India or pick a country). We also tried donor eggs in the USA for myself with a top 10 IVF clinic. The culture differences apart, we became a family through India, it all went well, our additional attempts at another child were correct. We were never overcharged but contrarily the US clinic kept sending us bills for "stuff" until I finally called them and the bills miraculously stopped ... never had that problem with India ... We were never ripped off by Indian clinics.

The media is not supportive, the general public is not supportive and now there is someone (C) on the inside who is negative? It infuriates me. There are crooked people the world over, but there are, fortunately, many and MORE good people. And the clinics in India that have attended us were above board.

The laws around the world about this issue have been changing constantly, as well as within India, so for a clinic to carry on its Business AND keep up with the legal mayhem, well, that is NOT an easy task.

Finally, whatever the stats are, there are so many factors like the quality of sperm and ovules. Many people want to use their own sperm and or ovules when either or both are of very poor quality. Hard fact to face, but true. The clinic is going to go ahead with this but they will advise you, "you need a donor".

Surrogacy is the last hope for many people, as it was in our case. We wanted a baby! Our baby. We didn´t want to adopt and there is nothing wrong with not wanting to adopt otherwise, everyone who has their own baby through pregnancy is wrong!

I´ve been following all this since 2009 and I just can´t believe this is "still" where we are.

Anonymous said...

"The underbelly of surrogacy will come out" - seriously? let me get this straight- this woman Crystal makes money from surrogacy in India, has her own children from surrogacy in India, yet puritanically declares it's a third world country with an underbelly needing to be exposed. The only person exposing the 'underbelly', if that's what she uses to descibe unethical practices (which exist in every country- think Octomum), is Meg! When has Crystal or her sycophantic friend Jon stuck their heads out and posted to warn people of the good and the bad without vested interest? Maya Angelou's words are indeed appropriate, Meg has shown herself to know better and DO better. And I think you'll find that Ukraine does not consider itself to be a third world country, had she been there she may have known better.

Anonymous said...

Meg, thank you for letting us know the link of the TV. Crystal says many don't abide by the new guideline.(gay and single) I know our Indian doctors really abide by the rule and so many including doctors get stuck. All procedures are stopped now. Everyone is suffered. What is she talking about? Maybe her doctor is not obeying the rule, but most of the doctors are. I know so many people are waiting for the words from Indian gov. Everyone is taking the words seriously. I know some people get stuck for getting the exit visa. Her irresponsible comments on TV will raise serious misunderstanding.