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?


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on Monday, October 18th, 2010 at 1:57 pm and is filed under women’s health.
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