07 October 2011
ByAppeared in BioNews 628
How to Have a Baby: The Comic Book for Infertile Couples
Published by the Malpani Infertility Clinic
Available for free online via Scribd
The comic is written by Drs Aniruddha and Anjali Malpani who run a Bombay-based fertility clinic offering 'treatment to infertile couples from all over the world'. The couple have impressive careers. Both studied medicine at Harvard and John Hopkins University and claim to have established India's first sperm bank and achieved India's first pregnancy after PGD.
Their breadth of experience and knowledge is evident in the comic, which goes into impressive detail about modern fertility techniques. But - in many ways - this is also the comic's downfall. This format is not suitable for communicating large volumes of detailed information.
Although there is a table of contents, none of the text is searchable, meaning it's difficult to find the information you want. I think people without basic scientific knowledge would find the book difficult to understand because the level of detail leads to jargon at times.
Although the amount of information provided is impressive, it concerns me that some people may suffer from information overload. They could be left lying awake at night, unnecessarily worrying that they might need surgical sperm retrieval or ovarian drilling during their treatment.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the comic seems pro-fertility tourism with all the patients portrayed as Caucasian couples and the fertility doctors as caricatures of the Malpanis. The book also mentions controversial procedures like cloning as options that may be available to patients in the future.
The comic is extremely frank at times, describing in detail how ectopic pregnancy is treated by injecting potassium chloride directly into the baby's heart - killing it and preventing it from growing. It is also refreshingly honest, with no attempt to hide the low success rates of many procedures and the need for patience during treatment.
In summary, this comic provides a comprehensive - although somewhat biased - guide to modern-day fertility procedures. What it does not provide is a subjective view of those procedures and – for this reason - I would caution any prospective patients reading it.
My biggest criticism is the comic seems to use scare stories to discredit the procedures used by other clinics, particularly those in the USA. This reflects the commercial interest of the authors and can only be an attempt to convince patients of the superiority of treatment at the Malpani Fertility Clinic.