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Barbadian consultant to Fuad: Legislation no way to regulate fertility treatment
Head of the Barbados Fertility Centre (BFC) Dr Juliet Skinner feels that legislation through the Tissue Act to regulate fertility treatment in T&T is not the way to go. Her advice follows the historic birth of the Caribbean’s first set of sextuplets to Trinidadian parents Kieron Cummings and Petra Lee Foon at the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital, last week.
Skinner was speaking to reporters after hosting a fertility seminar organised by the BFC at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, which attracted hundreds of couples, yesterday.
More than 900 people reportedly registered to attend the seminar to learn about the various fertility treatment available. On Thursday, Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said he would work on legislation through the Tissue Act to regulate fertility treatment. It is alleged that Lee Foon, 28, took prescribed fertility drugs which led to her multiple pregnancy.
A consultant gynaecologist, Skinner said when one reads the newspapers what is portrayed “is that this was a Clomid pregnancy.” When Clomid is used, it is a case of ovulation induction where the follicles are stimulated. Skinner said Clomid would either be prescribed with no monitoring, or dispensed over the counter.
She said a number of pharmacies in the Caribbean distribute drugs that should not be handed freely to patients.“I have seen patients get heart medication over the counter and ironically get pregnancy vitamins that need a prescription.” Skinner said an in vitro fertilisation (IVF) centre would not put six embryos in a 28-year-old. IVF is a process by which an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the body.
“I don’t think that this case necessitates tissue banking legislation, or stem cell or IVF legislation because that is just not what would happen,” Skinner asserted. “You can’t legislate Clomid prescription. What you could do is bring in a rule where you can’t dispense Clomid over the counter... Describing the births of the sextuplets as a one in a million, Skinner said the patient probably self-prescribed or the doctor in question did not monitor her.
“Or, she was monitored and told do not have intercourse—you need to abstain, you’ve got more follicles than you should—and ignored medical advice.” All these were possible causes of how a woman ends up with a multiple pregnancy, Skinner said.
“I don’t think that people probably realise how risky a pregnancy like this is. For every patient that may have got to this point, there would have been so many others that will not and, sadly, lose their children.” One in six couples suffer with infertility, Skinner said. She described Trinidadians as proactive people who are no longer burying their heads in the sand when it comes to fertility treatment.
Patients up to the age of 50 are treated in Barbados, with patients 44 onwards using donor eggs. Thousands of Trinidadian patients have sought fertility treatment at BFC. IVF at BFC costs approximately US$5,500 plus medication.
First born still critical
Meanwhile, the firstborn of the sextuplets remains critically ill. Chairman of the North Central Regional Health Authority Dr Shehenaz Mohammed said five were stable, while the first baby boy was still critically ill, but stabilised.
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