Monday, May 2, 2011

More Nigerians Are Opting For IVF

Interview with Dr. Richardson Ajayi

When did you start operations?
Our IVF centre has been running in Lagos since 1999 and we got our first babies a year after. In 11 years, the process has produced over 1,200 babies. With a lot of experience from operating in Lagos and Port-Harcourt, we decided to come over to Kaduna because we got a lot of requests in the North from people, who had to come to Lagos. I think we should look at IVF in the same way we should look at anyone with a medical condition. If you have diabetes, you take insulin; if you have hypertension, you take anti-hypertensive; if you have kidney failure, you have a kidney transplant. If you cannot get pregnant by yourself, then you need help. In that case, we simply take the sperm from the man, the egg from the woman and put them together to form an embryo out of the body because the man and woman are not making the embryo by themselves. This could either be because the man’s sperm is not strong enough or there is a blockage in the tube preventing the sperm and eggs from meeting. It could also be that the woman is not producing enough eggs or has fibroid within the uterus. What IVF does is to reproduce the conditions within the woman’s body out of the body so that the eggs will seem like they are inside the body and continue to develop.

What is your assessment of the society’s attitude to IVF?
I think there is a tremendous acceptance. As I said, it’s a medical problem and once people are clear about medical conditions, like any other medical problem, they look for help and ways of treating them. In our Lagos clinic, we have an average of over 1,200 new patients every year. And since we started in Kaduna in January this year, we have had over 150 patients. I think the demand is there and increasing. The response is fair, perhaps because we are a specialist unit. We are not for everyone, but for those who need our help. The important thing is that it helps couples to remain together and have children of their own.

You have been involved in this for years, what factors have you identified as aiding or hampering IVF success in Nigeria?
IVF is not like medical operation that has an objective end. The objective is to put the sperm and the egg together. Sperm and egg forming embryo is not the same as pregnancy. So, we put the embryo in the woman. One out of every four times that we do this, we get pregnancy. After insertion, using the IVF process, the embryo must continue to divide and must connect with the woman to form placenta and draw life from the woman. All of these are not under the control of the IVF process. The IVF process ends when we put the sperm in the woman. But the process that leads to pregnancy is beyond us. But what we do is to put in our prayers that everything will work out.

Have you had any successful case in Kaduna since you started?
We are starting our first batch of treatment in Kaduna in April. And we are hoping to record about 30 per cent success rate.

You just said the success rate is 30 per cent. If it fails, what happens to the money paid?
We are not inhuman and unfriendly; we give a discount on subsequent cycles.

What are the cost implications if an individual is to go through the process?
At the moment, we are charging N450,000 here in Kaduna. But in Lagos and Port-Harcourt, we charge N600,000 and above. Obviously, it is because the equipment and managing the units are very expensive.

What have you identified as the causes of impotence in our society?
Society has changed; social demography has changed. The age girls begin to have sexual intercourse is lower; many had multiple sexual partners before they got married and sexually transmitted diseases are much more common.


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