My husband and I chose to use a surrogacy facilitator not once, but twice. One of the primary reasons we made that choice was the recognition of our limitations in terms of evaluating a medical facility on the other side of the planet. In retrospect, we should have recognized that those same limitations applied to the facilitator.
Most international surrogacy agents do not have degrees in the health care field; it’s probably not reasonable to expect them to. However, absent accreditation by a credible third party like the International Joint Commission, it seems unlikely that the average layperson has the ability to evaluate doctors or facilities in a foreign country. Given our experience, a hospital that does not adhere to the standards set by the http://www.jointcommissioninternational.org is not a hospital I would feel comfortable using for high risk pregnancies or infants. To find out if a hospital meets these standards: http://www.worldhospitalsearch.org
The fact that a medical facility has a nice website or that it “looks” clean doesn’t mean that it adheres to international standards for patient safety.
At the same time, if a facility cannot maintain the most basic standards for cleanliness, it seems extremely unlikely they would have the capacity to prevent the spread of infection. In a country like India, where antibiotic resistant bacteria kill 58,000 babies every year it should be obvious why this is critically important.
The second and equally concerning issue is the conflict of interest in the relationship between facilitators and clinics. Facilitators frequently receive referral fees from the doctor/clinic. This is problematic for reasons that I think are pretty clear. At the very least, transparency would seem to require that this relationship be disclosed.
There are hospitals in New Delhi that meet the standards set by the Joint Commission. Again, you can find them here. I would not feel safe using a doctor who delivered at a hospital that did not meet these standards. If my agency or facilitator was recommending that I go forward with surrogacy in a country where there were no facilities accredited by the International Joint Commission, knowing what I know now, I would not be comfortable taking that risk with my baby.
Losing a child is one of the single most devastating things that has ever happened to my family. Sharing our experience has opened me up to vitriol from strangers and from people I used to call friends. I’ve been threatened with legal retaliation and told that this blog “does not paint me in a positive light.” What those people don’t seem to understand is this: My beloved son died. The last thing I’m worried about is other people’s opinions. Frankly, I don’t deserve to be painted in a positive light because I failed my son by being arrogant enough to think that I had the ability to protect him from half a world away. Telling my story isn’t easy. It shouldn’t be, but it’s the only way I can think of to say this:
“Johnny, Mommy is so very, very sorry.”