Four hospitals in Tamil Nadu were ordered to shut permanently by the state health department for their alleged involvement in the sale of egg cells of a 16-year-old. The girl was forced by her mother to donate her egg cells eight times to various fertility centres.
“Only adult married women in the 21-35 age group with a child are permitted to donate oocyte, only once. In this case the girl was forced into this several times,” said Ma Subramanian, the state Health Minister, listing a series of violations identified by a probe committee.
Oocyte is an immature ovum or an egg cell involved in reproduction.
“An Aadhar card was forged to show the minor girl as an adult. A fictitious husband’s consent was obtained,” Mr Subramanian added.
The hospitals were accused of violating the Assisted Reproductive Technology Act. They neither have qualified counsellors nor did they counsel the donor girl of the pros and cons of the procedure, the inquiry committee found.
Action has also been initiated under the Aadhaar and POCSO acts.
These hospitals could be fined up to ₹ 50 lakh and those involved, including doctors, get a jail term of ten years under the Assisted Reproductive Technology Act, the state health minister said.
The hospitals would get two weeks to shut in the interest of their patients. Two of these hospitals would also lose their empanelment under the state health insurance scheme, the health department said.
The health secretary would recommend action against two hospitals – one each in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala – as well for their involvement in the racket.