HONG KONG'S controversial sex selection clinic is relishing one of the highest success rates in the world, according to its principal scientist.
The Gender Choice Centre, which opened amid outcry from doctors and religious campaigners in November 1993, had produced 20 babies and another 15 to 20 pregnancies, scientist Anthony Wong Shun-yun told the Sunday Morning Post.
About 300 Hong Kong couples who wanted to choose the sex of their babies had been to the Central clinic for consultations and medical tests.
Mr Wong said the secret of the centre's success was in its selection of clients.
The treatment involves an insemination technique developed in the United States by Dr Ron Ericsson in 1973, in which sperm are separated in a centrifuge. Those carrying the desired chromosome are implanted in the woman.
'Instead of taking more cases, we are only taking the ones which have a good chance of success,' he said.
Only married couples with at least one child are accepted at the first stage of screening, and then only if they desire a child of a different sex to the one they already have.
'If they have two boys, then they have to choose a girl: if they have two girls, then they have to choose a boy,' Mr Wong said.
Clients must sign a consent form, agreeing to carry the pregnancy through to full term unless the foetus is abnormal.
Most Hong Kong couples ask for male children, and most women become pregnant on the first or second round of treatment, Mr Wong said. Strict measurement of ovulation ensures that the treatment only goes ahead under the best possible conditions for fertilisation.
'If it doesn't fit our criteria for ovulation, we will abandon that cycle,' Mr Wong said.
'I have more than a 90 per cent success rate. Dr Ericsson's worldwide statistics are about 80 per cent successful when choosing boys.
'The methodology and the material is the same, but different centres do it differently. In order to keep the pregnancy rate high . . . we have the consultations.' Women aged 30 to 43 years had undergone treatment at the centre, paying $10,000 to $20,000 for each cycle of treatment, Mr Wong said.
Legislators on the Health Services Panel called for a regulatory body to oversee scientifically assisted human reproduction in 1993, when the Government admitted it could not interfere with such services under present laws.