Current Affairs
Couples facing obstacles due to obscene rule linked to IVF procedures – gynecologist

Speaking during an interview with Television Malta, Gynecologist Mark Sant insisted that the Maltese legislation on IVF should offer the same rights that European legislation offer to persons with infertility problems. He proposed that tests should be carried out in Malta on embryos for genetic conditions.

Last year, there was an increase of couples in Malta who sought IVF procedures at Mater Dei hospital, but private procedures decreased.

Some 214 IVF procedures were carried out in Malta during the pandemic year, with the majority, 180, at Mater Dei hospital, while 34 others at a private hospital. The annual report of the Authority for the Protection of the Embryo shows that, last year, there was an increase of 33% of IVF procedures at Mater Dei, compared with the previous year. The trend, however, was not reflected in the private sector with a 13% decrease over 2019. Almost half of IVF procedures involved couples who tried the process for the first time.

The report also remarked that through IVF procedures in the private sector last year, there were two women at risk of developing a serious condition, and therefore they had to freeze the embryos. The condition, Ovarian Hyperstimulation, may be fatal to mothers among others. There were over 50 women at Mater Dei who risked developing this medical condition. Gynecologist Mark Sant is contesting the figures for the public hospital.

“If you read the report, you get the impression for example that, especially the ART government clinic, we had a high rate of complication known as OHSS. When this was the contrary. Since we introduced this law, we hadn’t a single case of the serious OHSS condition of having hyperstimulation. This was done because we are freezing the least obstacle in the process so that this condition does not exist”.

Dr Sant criticised the fact that a couple has to donate for adoption frozen embryos if they have more than two, and for some reason, the mother does not receive them before she is 48 years of age.

“This is a couple who has not yet started the process, and an axe is hanging over them that if something happens and cannot receive them all for some reason or other, that embryo may end up for someone else. This doesn’t exist anywhere; it is an obscene rule and is placing enormous suffering on these people”.

The expert appealed that the PGD technique is permitted in Malta, through which tests are made on the embryo for genetic conditions. Dr Sant expressed the view that the Maltese law should offer the same rights that European legislation offer to persons with infertility problems.