The 1970s saw a intense competition between various countries in producing the first test tube baby. The Americans were almost there but their own quagmire of legal laws handed over the victory to Dr. Robert Edwards of the UK. History was created when the first IVF baby,
Louis J Brown was delivered on 25 July 1978..
67 days later, a lesser known gynaecologist from Calcutta,
Dr. Subhash Mukherjee, claimed to have delivered the world’s second IVF baby. He received no publicity for this. Not only the press, the entire Medical fraternity in India gauged it as fake news.
The Indian Medical Council deemed it was not possible because he was not a laparoscopic surgeon, he lacked a lab, he lacked the services of a physiologist and embryologist. He was instructed to stop talking about his achievement. When he persisted, he found himself deregistered by the Indian Medical Council.
He was invited by the Australian College of Gynaecologist to present a paper on IVF. He turns up at the airport to find that his passport has been cancelled.
He was repeatedly questioned by various medical committees-the members who had completely zero knowledge of IVF. He faced ostracisation, bureaucratic negligence, reprimand and insult.
Depression took over him. Finally he decided he has had enough and committed suicide on 19/06/1981.
Eight years later, in 1986, Dr. Anand Kumar was credited to having delivered India’s first IVF baby. He could have just taken the accolade and moved on. But he remembered Dr.Subhash Mukherjee’s claims. He wrote to the International Federation of Fertility Societies to investigate
Dr. Subhash’s claims.
The IFFS soon set up a team and started their investigations, following the request. They first established that the child was genetically related to the parents.
Secondly they established that the mother had both her tubes removed in previous surgeries- so there is no way she could have conceived naturally.
The team was able to access the full treatment records. To their amazement, it was established that the fetilised egg was not implanted straight away but was kept frozen to be implanted in a subsequent cycle. This was a medical first.
In 1988, seven years after his death, IFFS officially recognised Dr. Subhash Mukherjee as having delivered the world’s second IVF baby which also happens to be the world’s first using a frozen embryo.
What a tragedy to befall on a man who achieved so much.
Doctors need no enemies. Their fraternity is enough.