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Octomom Fertility Doctor May Lose Medical License
In November, the hearing for Dr. Michael Kamrava, the fertility doctor who treated the “Octomom,” finally wrapped up after weeks of testimony. Following the conclusion of the hearing, the judge has 30 days to submit his opinion to the medical board regarding whether Kamrava will lose his medical license or face other sanctions.
Dr. Kamrava, the director of West Coast IVF Clinic, Inc., in Beverly Hills, garnered worldwide attention as the fertility doctor who transferred 12 embryos in Nadya Suleman during an IVF cycle. Following this fertility treatment, Suleman gave birth to eight babies and became known in the media as the Octomom.
The Medical Board of California is seeking to revoke or suspend Dr. Kamrava’s medical license, claiming he showed gross negligence in his fertility treatments for Suleman and two other patients, a 48-year-old who suffered complications after conceiving quadruplets and a 42-year-old who was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer after receiving fertility treatments. Dr. Kamrava is also accused of using Suleman for experimental techniques without her consent.
According to news reports, in her closing argument, Deputy Attorney General Judith Alvarado said Dr. Kamrava acted like a “cowboy” by disregarding the established ethical guidelines for fertility treatments.
Dr. Kamrava and Current Embryo Transfer Guidelines
According to current guidelines from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, patients under the age of 35, which described Suleman at the time of the embryo implantation, should have no more than two embryos transferred during an IVF cycle. For patients in that age group with two or more failed fresh IVF cycles or a less favorable prognosis, one additional embryo may be transferred, according to individual circumstances.
The guidelines also state that patients who have had previous success with IVF should be considered in the more favorable prognostic category. This also describes Suleman, since at the time of the embryo implantation that resulted in the octuplets, all of her previous six children had been conceived through IVF, according to news reports. However, Dr. Kamrava implanted 12 embryos into Suleman in 2008.
At the hearing, expert witness Dr. Victor Y. Fujimoto, director of UC San Francisco's In Vitro Fertilization Program, testified that the fertility treatment represented an “extreme departure” from the ASRM guidelines of care.
"More is not necessarily better," Fujimoto reportedly said.
Dr. Kamrava’s Response
In his testimony at the hearing, Dr. Kamrava said that he recommended implanting four embryos, since he considered Suleman infertile and possibly pre-menopausal, or using embryos she already had frozen, with the intended result of one baby. However, he said Suleman disagreed.
“She just wouldn't accept doing anything else with those embryos. She did not want them frozen, she did not want them transferred to another patient in the future," Dr. Kamrava said, according to news reports.
Dr. Kamrava said he felt like he didn’t have a choice, since Suleman wouldn’t allow her embryos to be frozen, destroyed, or transferred to another patient.
While he said he felt “apprehensive” about implanting the number of embryos, he eventually agreed to do so. He said Suleman agreed to reduce the number of fetuses if she became pregnant with quadruplets or higher multiples.
Kamrava maintains that he tried many times to reach Suleman about this, but she never returned his messages.
"At the time that I did it, I thought I did the right thing," Dr. Kamrava reportedly said. "When I look back at it, even with all those circumstances, I was wrong."
Following the conclusion of the hearing, Administrative Law Judge Daniel Juarez has 30 days to submit his opinion to the state board. After this, the board has 100 days to make its final decision regarding Dr. Kamrava’s medical license.