Sunday, April 15, 2007

Now eunuchs can conceive, choose gender

Hermaphrodites, commonly known as eunuchs, can now choose a gender of their liking and some can even give birth to babies — thanks to a special procedure developed at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here.

After proper diagnosis, some 1,100 patients have already given proper gender identities as males or females and all of them are leading a normal life, doctors at the premier research and referral institute said.

“Treatment is available in select centres. At least 18 of the treated patients have also given birth to babies,” said Dr D.K. Gupta, head of the department of paediatric surgeries.“After diagnosing physical attributes present inside the body and demands of the family, we conduct surgeries to reconstruct the vagina, uterus and even the male genitals,” Gupta said.

He said some time he and his team had to conduct as many as six-seven operations on one patient to put everything in order and said early diagnosis was the best way to treat such complications.“The genetic disorder can be treated most success fully if they come in an early age. May be within the first three months of birth. Instead of handing them over to eunuchs, they should bring to hospitals — it is perfectly curable,” he said.“On Friday, for instance, we performed a female genetoplasty and constructed a vagina in a six-year-old patient. The operation lasted over nine hours.”He said AIIMS has been treating patients from across the country, and even some from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.“Though the specific reason for these kind of disorder is yet to be pinpointed yet marriage within families and relatives is considered to be a prime cause.” Gupta explained that there were mainly three kinds of hermaphrodites — the male pseudohermaphrodites (MPH), the female pseudohermaphrodites (FPH) and the true hermaphrodites (TH).MPH is the most common disorder and accounts for over 50 per cent of intersex disorders and can be categorised as an incomplete male. They are generally male but look like females.Such cases are advised to convert to males if mildly affected and females in case of severity. “They have a vaginal pouch but never a uterus. They also have testis albeit hidden and we conduct male genitoplasty surgery on such people,” explained Dr Shilpa Sharma, another paediatric surgeon.

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