Fresh hope as Lagos’ clinic records first childbirth through egg-freezing



• Breakthrough, first in W’Africa, comes five years after takeoff of scheme
For women who are desirous of having their own babies through the aid of reproductive technology, there is now a fresh opportunity for that in the country. Indeed, the cheery lot of a Nigerian couple could be theirs soon as the Bridge Clinic in Lagos yesterday showcased a medical breakthrough in assisted reproductive technology by taking delivery of a baby through an egg-freezing procedure.

The feat, being the first of such in West Africa, came after five years of perfecting the reproductive technology. The Guardian learnt that the baby boy, Tiwatope by name, was delivered by a couple (names withheld) on February 16, 2016, after eight years of trying to conceive.

Egg-freezing (oocytes cryopreservation) procedure, being a new offering in in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), is a process in which a woman’s eggs (oocytes) are extracted, frozen and stored. And when she is ready to become pregnant, the eggs can be thawed, fertilised and transferred to the uterus as embryos. Such frozen eggs have a shelf live of 10 to 15 years.

But in the case of Tiwatope, the egg was only frozen for two months in expectation of her husband’s sperm to complete the process, The Bridge Clinic said yesterday.

A fertility physician at the clinic, Dr. Emmanuel Owie, explained that Tiwatope’s mother, 41, had her eggs frozen using vitrification, also known as flash-freezing process.

Owie said: “This is the cutting edge technology in cryobiology, where the eggs or oocytes of a women are dehydrated and the water content is replaced with ‘anti-freezing’ solution (cryoprotectants) before freezing. This will prevent the formation of ice crystals, which could destroy the cell.

“On her readiness for pregnancy, we fertilised the eggs using a standard technique known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in order to overcome the egg shell which normally gets hardened with freezing.

“The fertilised egg was subsequently transferred into the her womb, resulting in the pregnancy with Tiwatope. She (the mother) had her ante natal care in her family hospital and delivered the baby boy through Caesarian Section.”
The doctor confirmed that the baby and his mother were in good health to the delight of the family and friends.

Owie explained that the feat was yet another milestone for the Bridge Clinic since it commenced IVF services in 1999. The clinic has till date assisted in the delivery of no fewer than 1,947 babies from couples that had challenges delivering through natural process.

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