Nigeria records first baby by ‘freezed egg’

Nigeria has recorded the birth of its first baby conceived through the oocyte (egg) freezing protocol.
The feat was recorded by The Bridge Clinic, Lagos, on February 16, with the delivery of a male child, named Tiwatope.
The oocyte was preserved through cryopreservation, which is the cooling of cells and tissues to sub-zero temperatures to stop biological activity and preserve the cells for future use.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

‘I didn’t know that treatment for our issue was a bus stop away’

the quadruplets below:Elizabeth, Samuel, Mary & Deborah
Seventeen years ago when they got married, Samuel and Victoria Olayiwola had no idea of the battle they had to wage against childlessness. Doctors told them they were perfectly normal to have kids. But they didn’t, until they read an article in Sunday PUNCH and their story changed for the better, writes SOLAADE AY-ADERELE. His effusiveness on the phone was palpable. And when he presented himself physically to be interviewed for this story, his joy was infectious. He simply couldn’t contain his gratitude to God and his physician.
His wife was no less happy, though she seemed to be savouring the reality of becoming a mother for the first time after 17 years of marriage.
For Mr. Samuel Olayiwola and his wife, Victoria,
the joy of being parents after nearly two decades of trying for children is indescribable, what with the attendant frustrations and search for solutions that took them to various hospitals before they finally berthed at the Medical Assisted Reproductive Therapy Centre, Lagos, headed by internationally-acclaimed fertility expert, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru.
Tracing the history of their childlessness, Samuel says the problem became more complicated when doctor after doctor told him and his wife that they were perfectly normal to achieve pregnancy as a couple. This was after they had done all that was humanly possible yet unproductive.
“When you are told you have no biological impairment as to be barren, then you wonder what the problem is all about,” the joyous father reminisces. The puzzle and prayer continued until, as Samuel
says, he read an article about the possibility of having children through scientific processes as published in the Sunday PUNCH of February 6, 2011. Without wasting time, he located Prof. Ashiru who was interviewed for the story.
Even after meeting the professor of reproductive
endocrinology, who is one of the two pioneers of in-vitro fertilisation in Black Africa in 1984, and produced the first test tube baby in West Africa in 1989, Samuel still hesitated to access the available treatment; the cultural
bias against the treatment he was being introduced to was a deterrent, never
mind the nights of tears he and his wife had had to endure as a result of their childlessness. Relations on both sides of the divide were able to convince the couple that there was nothing wrong in the treatment on offer, and, some months after the first visit to MART, the Olayiwolas commenced treatment. In less than one year, their dreams were fulfilled via the delivery of a healthy set of quadruplets.
As Samuel and Victoria Olayiwola were interviewed
for their story, it was obvious that the delay wouldn’t have dragged on for so long if the various doctors they had seen earlier had diagnosed the problem. In
fact, the case seemed so minor that, unlike some IVF cases where the patients have to undergo many trials before conception can be achieved, Mrs. Olayiwola
got pregnant the very first time she went through the treatment — a feat which Ashiru attributes to superior technological advancement that MART uses.
Ashiru explains that about 20 per cent of female
infertility can be attributed to tubal causes; and this can be as a result of Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases, infection during medical procedures, when faecal matter comes into contact with the vagina, high fever in children, and sundry other reasons.
In the case of PID, Ashiru says, as an infection begins, the body gets ready to attack. White blood cells and other fluids fill the tubes to fight the infection. If the body resistance is good, it wins; but in the bargain, the fragile walls of the tube get scarred.
“Due to this, the end of the tube towards the ovaries can get partially or completely blocked and scarred tissues form on the outside of the tube. These circumstances can affect the functions of the
ovaries and the fallopian tube and can lead to infertility,” he says.
Because of the sensitivity of couples that come for fertility treatment, Ashiru says, MART takes patients through some counselling sessions, preparatory to the actual treatment, during which they are told the nature of the problem and the appropriate treatment.
While Ashiru says age is no barrier when couples come for IVF treatment, he does agree that after age 40, both woman and man may need a little treatment to boost the eggs and the sperm respectively.
Indeed, according to a 2004 issue of the American
Journal of Gynaecology, in one study of couples undergoing high-tech infertility treatments, researchers concluded that a man’s chances of fathering a child decrease with each passing year.
In the study, the odds of a successful pregnancy fell by 11 per cent every year; while the couple’s chances for obtaining a successful live birth declined even farther. “In such situation, the man receives medications to make the semen viable,” Ashiru says.
Hence, when Samuel demurred after his first visit to the clinic, Ashiru warned that considering that both husband and wife were in their 40s, it was advisable to get the job done while the window of opportunity was still open.
Ashiru also discloses that sometimes, a woman can
be taken through weight loss programme prior to IVF treatment if she’s considered overweight. Victoria went through this, shedding almost 20kg in the process.
While studies connecting obesity to anovulation
(failure to produce eggs or to discharge them from an ovary) are not new, a study led by Dr. Van der Steeg, a medical researcher at the Academic Medical Center in The Netherlands shows that even women who regularly ovulate experience sub-fertility when their body mass index is in the overweight or obese category.
In other words, the researchers found that women
with regular cycles and otherwise no obvious fertility problems still have a hard time getting pregnant if they are overweight. They also found that the
more overweight the woman is, the lower her chances of pregnancy.
Ashiru says excess weight in women prevents
fertility by many factors. “For one, ovarian hormone is destabilised, making
hormonal stimulation complicated when undergoing IVF treatment, as treatment can disappear into fatty tissues, among others; hence the weight loss advice
where necessary, which we have found to be effective over the years.”
While the couple would not put a price to the treatment they received, Ashiru jokes that they paid for a child and got four in the bargain. What happened is this: generally, in any IVF treatment, embryos are transferred into the woman. In the early days of IVF, more embryo transfers
took place in part because the rate of success was quite low; and patients sometimes went through several trials — sometimes as many as 10 or more cycles
before conception could take place. Then, it was common to have sextuplets.
However, as technology advances, the picture becomes clearer and, to make for the health of mother and child(ren), fewer embryo transfers are done. In fact, in recent times, experts advise that no more
than three embryo transfers should be done. So, the Olayiwolas had three embryo transfers, and an egg later divided into two, with all of them surviving till birth. The
couple had three girls and a boy.
After Victoria’s pregnancy had been confirmed, the Olayiwolas didn’t want to take chances. Samuel decided to take his wife abroad, where he thought she could obtain the best monitoring while the pregnancy lasted. The couple obtained South African visas, but Ashiru
successfully talked them out of it, referring them rather to a trusted colleague of his, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Godwin Ajayi, who nurtured Victoria under his
care, successfully delivering her of the children on February 9.
When asked what his advice is for couples-in-waiting, Samuel says it’s better for them to seek treatment once it has been confirmed that something is amiss.
Indeed, doctors advise couples to seek viable
treatment if, after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse they fail to achieve pregnancy.
Samuel says that until he came about the Sunday
PUNCH article, he wasn’t aware of any such treatment. “Knowledge is power,” he confesses.
Ashiru commends the Olayiwolas for “putting a
face” to the IVF treatment. This becomes necessary, he says, because couples are almost always reluctant to come out in the open to say they’ve accessed IVF
treatment simply because of the ignorance and cultural bias that people still have about the procedure.
Explaining the scientific advancement that has
been achieved through the IVF, Ashiru says, “with IVF, even couples who are both sickle cell carriers can have absolutely normal children without a trace
of the disorder. We deploy a technique called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to determine the healthy genetic status of embryos before transfer. Ditto for other genetic disorders like Down’s Syndrome, etc.
“Children born through the IVF are as normal as
any child and there is no reason whatsoever to see them otherwise,” Ashiru concludes.


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