SAMUEL, 48, and Victoria, 42, Olayiwola have become the first couple to publicly acknowledge that they were able to have quadruplets after 17 years of marriage, at first attempt, through In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) in Medical Art Centre (MART), Maryland, Ikeja, Lagos. The Olayiwolas, pastors at Living God Preparatory Assembly (Rehoboth Basilica), Abule-Egba, Lagos, on Thursday, February 9, 2012, became proud parents of three girls and a boy – Elizabeth, Mary, Samuel and Deborah. The quadruplets were delivered under the watchful eyes of Prof. Godwin Ajayi at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba.
The Olayiwolas, who celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary on Sunday, March 4, 2012, got to know of the services offered at MART by the Joint Pioneer of IVF technique in Nigeria and Adjunct professor at University of Illinois United States, Oladapo Ashiru, through an article published in newspapers.
When the couple got to MART, Victoria was diagnosed with blocked fallopian tubes and overweight. She was put through a detoxification programme and had to lose 20kg before the technique started. Victoria and Samuel were put on some antioxidant drugs to boost the quality of eggs produced by the ovaries and the sperm from the testicles.
How did it all happen? Samuel during a thank you visit to MART recently told The Guardian: “I am here to show my appreciation to the man God used to bring joy to my family.
“Two things worked for us; our faith in God and level of education. Number three is our family members; maybe because they believe in God they did not put much pressure on us. Finally what helped my wife was that I had the insight that when you are talking about infertility it may not necessarily be the lady. My wife and I, we prayed and the day I saw professor’s interview in the newspapers, the spirit of God said to me ‘this is an opportunity you should not allow to pass you by.’
“When we finally got to Prof. Ashiru he told us that we could not wait any longer trying other methods due to our ages, that we have to go straight to the sure method. My wife had blocked fallopian tubes. When Prof. heard our ages he said ‘where have you been?’ I am 48 and my wife 42. I got assurances from Prof. that my sperm and my wife’s eggs were okay. He said I was okay but needed to take some drugs to make my sperm better.”
What were the challenges? Samuel explained: “When it was confirmed that my wife was pregnant I was weary when I was asked to go and sign an undertaking that if anything happened, the hospital would not be liable. But Prof. explained that it was to make sure that I understand that if problem arises that the two teams will solve it together and not to heap the blame on the hospital.
“Another issue was during the period of transfer of the embryo back into my wife, Professor travelled and left it for his assistants. My wife was worried but I told her that Professor must have set everything right. After the implantation, the first scan showed three fetuses but by the second one, the fetuses were four; this was because one of the embryos turned to twins, it later divided again.
“Another issue was when two of my babies needed blood and my blood was taken to check whether it matched for possible transfusion. I was jittery because of stories I read of the use of donor sperm. But I prayed that my blood corresponds to theirs. I did not doubt MART but you know naturally I was worried. But when it was confirmed I was very happy.
“Another challenge was when Professor advised that my wife needed the best obstetric care for the babies to be delivered successfully. We wanted to travel abroad for the delivery but we had problems getting United Kingdom (UK) visa. I already had South Africa visa so it was easier to get for my wife. Along the line I was told that South Africa may have the facilities but Nigeria has better hands. Prof. Ashiru recommended Prof. Godwin Ajayi of LUTH. He said Ajayi is one of the best hands.
“When we got to Prof. Ajayi, he did not allow my wife to go home that day. She was immediately admitted in his clinic at LUTH. We had problems during the January strike against fuel subsidy removal. The doctors were helpless in helping. But we prayed that the strike got resolved quickly.”
On why benefitting couples were not enthusiastic to come forward? Samuel said: “People are not keen to come forward to accept that their children were born through IVF probably because of societal perceptions. As a man of God I feel I should not cover it. Personally, this issue of nobody coming out is somehow. But I said that if God will answer me I would testify publicly. In this modern age there is nobody that is not assisted by technology whether it is scan or drugs. The first time I met Prof. Ashiru he was talking about his new technology. He said ‘don’t let this woman get beyond the opportunity.’”
Samuel in a letter of appreciation to Prof. Ashiru made available to The Guardian said: “On behalf of myself and my wife, I wish to appreciate you for deploying your God-given wisdom and knowledge at ensuring that we have children of our own. Sir, you are a channel who God used to give us everlasting joy; this we are very much grateful.
“…I must add Sir, that with this type of opportunity and prayer, many would stop visiting herbalists that usually compound their problem. Words cannot express our gratitude.”
To this, Ashiru responded: “I think we should recognise that the gentleman that came here is the first to go public. We at MART have been well commended to be the best in Africa. We have improved the technique in such a way that we are now having several multiple pregnancies. But in the developed world now, they do not want to hear the word
multiple pregnancy. They are looking at the economies and all the complications.
“So, the preaching is to reduce the number of embryos. We have done that and the multiple pregnancies we are having this year is less than what we had three years ago. Two years ago we were having quadruplets because we were using four embryos. Now we have reduced the number of embryos we are putting back to just three. But as God will do it, this three ended up four because of twinning.
“But among the people who have benefited, the Olayiwolas are coming out to break the ice in such a way. The last time we had this type of event, the woman wanted to but the husband did not allow her. People should recognise that there is a technique that can help people. People are now coming from throughout West Africa to benefit.”
On whether there were challenges in handling the Olawiyolas case? Ashiru said: “I think they were very lucky, there were no hindrance. There was little or no challenge. All they had to do is to take medication to make sure the ovaries and sperm were fully functional. They took antioxidant drugs to ensure better sperm and ovarian production. The next thing was that the woman had to lose weight. She lost 20kg. She had to go through our detoxification and weight loss programme.”
Ashiru, who is also the medical director of MART further stated: “This thing will demystify IVF. In some years back if people delivered through caesarean section they did not want people to know. I thank the Olayiwolas that they are able to come forward. I hope by so doing Nigerians will know that IVF is a normal process and these babies are normal children.
“I have been in this process since 1981 but the successes have been hidden because people do not come forward and even when they do, they come with pseudo-names. The Olayiwolas’s success is the reward for patience and dedication. I take this as God’s help from the Almighty. To me this call is a call to humanity, to service.”