Just two days after non-commercial surrogacy services were legalized in Vietnam, at least three married couples have been confirmed as being eligible, a top official said Tuesday.
They were among nearly 20 couples who had applied to the Hanoi-based National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Viet Tien, also the director of the hospital’s reproduction assistance center, said.
The Hanoi hospital is among three to get the health ministry’s permission to offer surrogacy services on a trial basis starting Sunday, the others being the Hue Central Hospital and Tu Du Obstetrics Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.
Tien said while the hospitals have already mastered surrogacy techniques, the biggest challenge is to find eligible surrogates who voluntarily sign up and satisfy legal and health requirements.
Vietnamese laws state that the surrogate must be a sister or cousin not more than thrice removed of either the husband or wife, and should have successfully given birth to a child.
In fact, for the first three couples it would be their sister or sister-in-law all aged between 25 and 35 acting as surrogates, the official said.
Nguyen Huy Quang, chief of the health ministry’s Legal Department, said a cycle of in-vitro fertilization costs US$2,000-3,000 including drugs in Vietnam, while in other countries in the neighbourhood it costs $8,000-12,000.
Under the amended Family and Marriage Law passed last June, surrogacy is allowed for legally married childless couples if doctors confirm the mother is unable to give birth even with technological support.
It strictly bans surrogacy for commercial purposes, stipulating that the arrangement must be voluntary on the part of all involved and follow IVF regulations.
With around 7.7 percent of married couples of reproductive age being infertile in Vietnam, the new law has been hailed as being “humane.”