By Chukwuma Muanya
A LAGOS-BASED In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) & Fertility Unit, St. IVES, successfully delivered its first test tube baby at the weekend, 11 months after the Ikeja-based fertility clinic was set up.
The baby boy, Christian, weighing 3.0 kilogrammes and measuring 50 centimetres in length was delivered by 1 p.m. on June 7, 2008, after 37 weeks of pregnancy. The baby was brought forth through a Caesarean section after a comprehensive IVF treatment by a team of five doctors, including an obstetrician and gynaecologist and embryologists.
IVF is a technique in which egg cells are fertilised by sperm outside the woman’s womb, in-vitro. It is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process, removing ova (eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a fluid medium. The fertilised egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient’s uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy.
The medical team was led by the Head of the IVF Unit, Dr. Tunde Okewale, a consultant gynaecologist and fertility expert. Other experts on the team were Dr. O. Ogundimu; Dr. A. Obi; Dr. S. N. M. Onigbinde and Dr. H. Oguike.
The couple aged 30 (woman) and 40 (man) have been married since 2001. But five years after marriage, they could not conceive and they sought medical intervention. After medical investigation, it was discovered that the woman had a blocked tube and the man a very low sperm count. They were advised to go through IVF.
When The Guardian yesterday visited St. IVES, which was established in July 2007, the mother and baby were well and stable. The mother was still in a deep sleep. The father refused to speak to the press.
However, The Guardian learnt that the mother is a housewife and the father is a top executive in one of the leading financial institutions in the country.
Okewale said: “What could have been recorded as our first IVF baby in April 2008 ended in a premature still birth at 26 weeks in February 2008 because of severe pregnancy hypertension, which complicated the pregnancy. This particular woman was part of the first batch but she was not successful. But on second trial, she conceived and was due for delivery last week of this month. But she came in here yesterday with very high blood pressure and in order not to lose the baby, we opted for an emergency Caesarean section.
“Two other women from the unit are due for delivery in July and August 2008. Eight others are presently at various stages of pregnancy in the unit. St. IVES, IVF & Fertility Unit is committed to providing state-of-the-art Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) such as IVF, Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI), Sperm & Embryo Freezing at an affordable cost and with high pregnancy rate, in a comfortable and informal atmosphere.”
In Nigeria, it is estimated that about 25 per cent of couples in their fertile age group are infertile and studies have shown that the incidence of infertility in the country is on the rise because of urbanisation, pollution, stress, chemical exposure, cancer orientation, late settlement in life, among others.
It has also been shown that while about 40 per cent of infertile couples will get pregnant by themselves, by changes in their lifestyles and by the standard gynaecological treatments, up to 60 per cent will, however, require some form of assisted conception techniques such as IUI, IVF, ICSI among others to achieve pregnancy.
The first authenticated and documented live delivery of a baby by IVF – ET (embryo transfer-test tube baby) in Nigeria was in 1987 at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital by Prof. Oladapo Ashiru and Prof. Osato Giwa-Osagie.
However, the first IVF or rather, test tube baby – Louise Brown – was born in the United Kingdom in July 1976.