Octo-Mom’s Doctor On Trial

I heard on National Public Radio (NPR) this morning that the doctor who implanted Nadeya Suleman (aka “Octomom”) with so many embryos is at a hearing this morning in Los Angeles.

The doctor, Michael Kamrava, has been accused of “gross negligence” by the Medical Board of California. According to an L.A. Times blog post that was updated just a few hours ago, the hearing “is expected to last at least a week and could determine whether Dr. Michael Kamrava’s medical license will be suspended or revoked.”

Dr. Kamrava was expelled last fall from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), a professional organization that provides education and networking to its members and publishes a peer-reviewed journal on fertility.

“Certain of his actions did not comport with ASRM policies and guidelines,” said ASRM’s public affairs manager, Eleanor Nicoll, when I spoke to her earlier today. Nicoll said Kamrava’s expulsion was conducted in a hearing by telephone.

Nadeya Suleman was a single mother of six children when she gave birth to eight children, six boys and two girls, by C-section on January 26, 2009. Despite being a tabloid sensation (you can see pictures of her here posing in a bikini after losing 150 pounds, and with her eight children at their first birthday), she has been struggling financially ever since.

The ASRM has guidelines on their website about numbers of embryos that are safe to transplant.

Because “high-order” pregnancies (triplets or more) are associated with more complications to the mom and the babies, ASRM recommends, “For patients under the age of 35 … consideration should be given to transferring only a single embryo. No more than two embryos … should be transferred.”

By some accounts, Kamrava transferred a dozen embryos to Nadeya Suleman.

Raising children is a tremendously rewarding and challenging experience for most parents, who only have one at a time. To have eight children born prematurely all at the same time while you are single and financially destitute must be very difficult indeed.

Should the doctor who implanted Nadeya Suleman with so many embryos lose his license to practice? Is this an isolated case of medicine gone mad or is Kamrava’s unethical behavior indicative of a larger problem in America where fertility is becoming increasingly medicalized and monetized?

Bookmark and Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This entry was posted
on Monday, October 18th, 2010 at 1:57 pm and is filed under women’s health.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.



11 thoughts on “Octo-Mom’s Doctor On Trial”

  1. I was appalled by patient and doctor – both – in this story. I know the fertility-treatment business intimately well and have never run into a doctor who would agree to such excesses. And I know that guidelines for embryo transfer, in this country, are more lenient than in, say, Europe or (I believe) Japan. I understand the pain and heartbreak of infertility and understand some of the reasoning behind transferring more than one or two embryos; also, this is not an exact science, and there are multiple issues to weigh when making a decision about how many to transfer. That said, I’m not sure, from my experience, how well all doctors explain the risks of higher order multiples to their patients; I’ve heard of too many situations where patients are surprised to be presented with the recommendation to selectively reduce once a multiples pregnancy is underway. There are also painful ethical issues associated with what to do with any extra embryos that may result from a treatment.

    Unless the patient is very well-informed or doggedly inquisitive, the doctor should be sure that they understand all the risks to mom and babies BEFORE beginning treatment. In our personal situation, we walked away from one treatment minutes before it was to begin because we were not sure it would not result in multiples and weren’t satisfied with the explanation we were getting.
    .-= Christine ´s last blog ..Picture books =-.

  2. If he violated the guidelines and did not have a good reason to do so, I think he should lose his license. It almost pains me to say this though because I think often too many doctors get a little crazy about the guidelines. When my daughter was a toddler, she had recurrent ear infections. After many antibiotics, we finally found one that made her better. However, she would relapse within a couple of weeks. The Dr would treat her with the one that worked then insisted on putting her on a maintenance dose of one that did not work. I pushed for a maintenance dose of the one that did work and the doctor got very nasty with me and told me that it was outside the guidelines to do that and there were only certain antibiotics that could be used as maintenance and she was not going to risk her license. Which made no sense – why give her something we know will not work? Finally we got to an ENT specialist who said yes, definitely let’s do a maintenance dose of the one that works. It worked and we avoided having to have tubes put in her ears. I also have to say that alternative remedies are not considered to be withing the guidelines for many things. So I don’t always believe that the guidelines should be the be all and end all of what is appropriate treatment.

  3. It’s sad but I find myself desensitized to this story–I just feel for those little babies. I’m still mystified by why the doctor implanted so many embryos and why the mom felt ready for so many. I guess versus thinking about the licensing issue, what interests me is what his motivation was–was he just in it for money because it doesn’t sound like she had much anyway.
    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..Easy Ghostly Chocolate

  4. I still have trouble understanding why in the world a responsible health care professional would implant so many embryos and put both mother and children’s lives at stake. I do not think he should be permitted to practice; I think it was irresponsible and beyond the call of duty.
    .-= sheryl´s last blog ..Epilepsy and Your Hormones =-.

  5. That many fetuses ENSURES that they will be significantly premature, so his conduct knowingly damaged the health of those babies. That is nothing short of criminal.

    Then, it is obvious that a broke single mother of six who wants many more children is not merely enthusiastic about kids–she is suffering from serious emotional problems that the babies aren’t going to fix. He should have refused to implant her at all and tried to steer her to getting some of the help she needed.

  6. I am personally opposed to medically assisted reproduction but even if I believed wholeheartedly in the practice, I would still find the actions of both mother and doctor reprehensible.

    I am especially disturbed by Dr. Kamrava’s willingness to essentially use Ms. Suleman’s uterus as a science experiment. It sounds like the plot to a B horror movie.

  7. How anyone could believe this guy DOESN”T deserve to lose his license is beyone me – but then again, there are likely more folks like Ms. Suleman in the world who are looking for this kind of “help.” Too late for her, but at least getting one of these unethical predators out of the business is a start.
    .-= Casey´s last blog ..Well-Stocked- Roasted Garlic =-.

  8. I think he should lose his license. This was not just about informed consent, what he did was reckless and for the sole purpose of getting her pregnant with multipes. What he did was not at all about getting pregnant with 1 child. When someone comes to his office who clearly has mental problems like Nadia and is asking for something that will clearly result in harm to the children, a doctor should not go along with it.

  9. [email protected] Food. Stories. says:

    Savvy business-woman, perhaps. But a good mother? No way. I feel so very sad for her children. One baby is hard enough to raise. How did she expect to support several, let alone eight, with no job … grr! Don’t get me started.
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..Thoughts on Retirement at Newcomb Hollow =-.

  10. I just read this story on the Whittier Daily News. Even though the Dr. testified that Nadya insisted on him transferring 12 embryos with the promise to do selective reduction if three took. I still think he should lose his liscense. I don’t care that she disappeared after he did the proceedure.Nadya had 29 frozen embryos. The Dr. should have never been giving her drugs to create more. He was her IVF Dr. with the first 6. At best , when Nadya came into his office wanting more babies he should have shown her the door and said” This is not ethical or morally right NO ” I also think Nadya should be punished somehow for all the lies she has told from the beginning of this insanity. Maybe court ordered nannies for those children so she has no choice but to be transparent for those kids sake.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *