Controversial doctor builds ‘baby factory’ where Indian women will breed children for western couples
A controversial doctor is building the world’s first ‘baby factory’ which will house hundreds of poverty-stricken Indian women making babies for childless Western couples.
The one-stop surrogacy shop – complete with a gift shop and hotel rooms – is under construction as part of India’s multi billion dollar commercial surrogacy industry.
The medic behind the plans, Dr Nayna Patel, already runs a back street clinic in rural Gujarat which currently accommodates around 100 pregnant women in a single house.
Wannabe parents send sperm or embryos to the clinic via courier, often only visiting India to pick up their new son or daughter.
Dr Patel pays her surrogate US$8,000 (£4,950) and receives $28,000 (£17,330) from hopeful parents in exchange for using the womb of a virtual stranger.
A BBC4 documentary, House of Surrogates, will the lid on her multi million pound state of the art hospital set to open next year.
Currently under construction, the new clinic will have self catering apartments for the visiting Western couples, a floor for the surrogate mothers to live, offices, delivery rooms, an IVF department and even a collection of restaurants and a gift shop.
In just a decade, Dr Patel’s programme has already produced almost 600 babies for rich couples.
She has received death threats and faced accusations of exploiting the poor for profit – but she insists her work is a “feminist mission” bringing equally needy woman together.
Speaking in tonight’s documentary, she said: “These woman are doing a job. It’s a physical job. They are paid for that job.
“These women know there is no gain without pain. I definitely see myself as a feminist. Surrogacy is one woman helping another.”
Among the hopeful couples is British doctor Michael, 62, and his Russian wife Veronica, 33.
Veronica was born with one fallopian tube and one ovary, leaving her unable to carry a child.
Speaking about two embryos which have just been implanted in a surrogate mother, she said: “These are Alexander and Katerina – I’ve had the names for two years.”
She added: “My last chance of trying to have my own child is to use a surrogate.
“Many women suffer, they don’t have this possibility to become mothers which I did.
“We can have our children, who can make their own children.
“The embryos for me are already alive, they are waiting for that moment where they can grow and be taken out and say ‘Hello mummy’… it’s like my whole future starts today, right now.”
Husband Michael added: “As a physician, I find it somewhat ironic to see poor individuals who are pregnant and choose to terminate their baby, and individuals who wish deeply to be pregnant but are unable to.
“[The outside of the clinic] looks very ordinary. It hides the interior, where the science is quite professional, procedures are sterile, and it’s no different what I’m used to in the Western world.
“We’ve had to come all this way to experience this and we’re absolutely overwhelmed.”
The documentary shows Dr Patel praying as she places the embryos inside the uterus of a surrogate. In two weeks a blood test will reveal if she is pregnant.
The film also features local woman and twice-surrogate Edan, who had recently had a baby for Canadian Barbara, 54.
Barbara was stuck in India for four months with her newborn son before she got the paperwork she needed to take him home.
Not only did she pay Edan to give birth to her baby – she also gave her cash to visit her hotel twice a day to continue breast feeding her new son before she returned to Canada.
Barbara, who tried for 30 years to become a mother, said: “Infertility is a medical problem.
“If people born with bad eyesight get corrective eye glasses, and diabetics get insulin, why can’t we get medical treatment for our problem?”
Surrogate mum-to-be Papiya is expecting twins for a couple in America and plans to spend the cash on a house for her family.
“Having twins means we get a bigger fee,” she said.
“Last time I was a surrogate I bought white goods, a car and lent dome to my sister in law. This time I will buy a house.”
Mother Vasanti and her husband Ashok have been able to send daughter Mansi to an esteemed English-speaking school thanks to the cash she has earned from surrogacy.
They currently all live in one room – shared with four more family members – but are building a new house with surrogacy fees.
Vasanti told the film makers: “Things are getting more expensive we can’t afford them.”
In the film, Dr Patel addresses the controversy surrounding her clinic.
“I have faced criticism and I will in the future,” she said
“According to many, I am controversial. There have been allegations of baby selling, baby making factory.”
She added: “The surrogates are doing the physical work agreed and they are being compensated for it.”