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Afghan Couple Turn to Indian Sperm Banks for Help

Kashmiri sperms stocked by Indian sperm banks are at a premium among Afghan couples, reports say.

However much Islamist or Talibanized, infertile Afghan couple do scout around for sperm donors and invariably land in India.

Ironically it is perhaps the never-ending conflicts, sparked by Islamist fervour that might have contributed to stress-related hormonal disturbances in Afghans. And such imbalances in turn could in turn lead to infertility.

When they have a choice, they always prefer Kashmiri sperms. For they are believed to hail from the same ethnic stock, it is stated.

India has 10 sperm banks in a country where the population is over a billion.

Dr Iqbal Mehdi, who runs India's oldest semen bank, Cryogene in Delhi, told the BBC that at least 25 Afghan couples have recently sought his help.

'Sometimes a woman wanting to have a baby from Afghanistan will first come to look for medical help.

'If she is cleared and the problem is with her husband's low sperm count or no sperm count, they opt for Indian donors,' Dr Mehdi said.

'It is very difficult to get donors. But we have a few semen samples of Kashmiris, and Afghans prefer those donors as their racial characteristics are similar.'

A Persian-speaking gynecologist, Helai Gupta, has been treating Afghan couples for infertility for the last eight years.

Dr Gupta said the number of Afghan couples seeking donor sperm has increased since the end of Taleban rule.

'From all the Afghan couples who have visited me, it is the men who were either infertile or had erectile dysfunction.

'These men are surprised when after tests I inform them that it is they and not their wives who have a problem,' she said.

Close proximity to India has seen couples from Pakistan and Uzbekistan also visit the clinics.

Requests to set up similar banks have come in from Israel, Sri Lan ka and Indonesia.

Dr Mehdi says semen samples are collected from different parts of India, supplied by healthy student donors with no medical problems.

He said a lot of time is spent convincing healthy individuals to become voluntary donors.

Doctors have to give each donation a detailed medical screening. Blood samples are tested over four months to rule out HIV and hepatitis infections.


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