There is hope for childless couples

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There is hope for childless  couples

Fertility centres have again been allowed to freeze human embryos until further notice, according to a ministerial decision that amends a three-year-old federal law.

by

Asma Ali Zain

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Published: Mon 29 Aug 2011, 8:44 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 5:12 AM

DUBAI - Fertility centres have again been allowed to freeze human embryos until further notice, according to a ministerial decision that amends a three-year-old federal law and gives hope to hundreds of childless couples.

The UAE Health Council in May this year amended a much debated federal law that banned freezing of embryos in 2009, citing lineage and terming it as a procedure not allowed under Islamic principles. However, thousands of stored embryos may already have been destroyed from the time the centres were asked to implement the decision in 2010 and inform couples that the procedure would no longer be available.

A recently issued circular by the Medical Practices and Licensing Sector at Ministry of Health said: “The Health Council in a decision has allowed to freeze embryos for couples for the future provided the use is completely scientific and as per Shariah regulations which prevent mixing of offspring.”

A senior ministry official said the earlier decision to destroy embryos had been changed until further notice. “The centres had been given six months to destroy the embryos and then another six months extension had been given until June of last year,” said Dr Ahmed Al Zarouni, Director of Medical Licensing Departments at the ministry and head of the Committee to Supervise Fertilisation Centres.

“However, the decision has been changed and the centres can freeze embryos again though there may be limitations at a later stage,” he added.

An estimated 10,000 embryos were stored in fertility centres across the country with the bulk being in Tawam Hospital and Dubai Gynaecology and Fertility Centre. During the procedure to dispose of the embryos last year, the centres contacted couples to obtain permission to destroy the embryos that had been in storage for years. While several couples gave permissions, a majority had since left the country or changed their contact details. Hence, the embryos remained with the centres.

Embryo freezing or embryo cryopreservation is a medical procedure used by women who are not able to conceive naturally. The procedure is an extension of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) already approved by Islamic scholars around the world.

asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com



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