It does not require millions of naira anymore for a Nigerian family faced with infertility to travel abroad and achieve pregnancy. This cost has rather reduced to as low as N500, 000, according to BusinessDay findings.
This cost stops at planting a fertilised egg in the womb, and often only 25 percent of this effort results to actual pregnancy. This means that you may have to pay another N500, 000 (may be, with some discounts), if pregnancy fails to result from this expensive venture, according to BusinessDay investigations.
To even bring the cost lower to the range of the poor, one of the foremost clinics pioneering decent practices in In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) techniques, the Bridge Clinic, is building collaborative networks with state governments and organisations to help subsidise the cost to as low as N300,000.
Bridge Clinic operators are, however, worried that due to lack of any kind of regulation in the IVF practice in Nigeria , incompetent and unethical methods have crept into the scene, ‘just for the money.’
Before now, affected Nigerian families flocked abroad to achieve pregnancy to get a baby for whatever amount, and that was how Richardson Adedayo Ajayi, a Nigerian medical (IVF) expert then in London met desperate Nigerian mothers and decided to bring the technology home to help out. Now, mothers can get their dream pregnancies at very cheap financial costs. So far, 1252 babies have come to the world in Nigeria through this method at the Bridge Clinic headed by Ajayi with the close technical support of the likes of Peter Hollands (the renowned scientists who was part of the first IVF baby, Louise Brown) and Louise Crowe, a nursing services expert with many years of clinical and administrative practice.
The major breakthrough, perhaps, in the IVF research in Nigeria , according to Ajayi, who stormed the Garden City to continue his fight against unethical intrusion in the IVF world, is the message that infertility cannot be a spiritual problem but purely a medical case. Any of four problems can hinder a woman from achieving pregnancy- problems with the egg, the sperm, the tube or the uterus. “I have not seen any infertility case that did not touch any of the above four,” Ajayi said.
Insisting that IVF practitioners do not make life, Ajayi said medical experts merely intervene to help the interaction of the four parts mentioned above to produce pregnancy and help raise a baby, and warned that infection (some caused by bad abortion) was a major cause of tube-blocking. He explained how fibroids destroy the uterus and stop pregnancies.
Despite the intimidating fees, the chief clinical director said not more than 25 per cent of attempts would result in pregnancy, whether by natural means or by IVF. “We do our best but only God allows the fertilisation to occur, whether in the bedroom or in the laboratory.”
Many African countries now look up to the Bridge Clinic for babies and even Europeans flock to the Bridge to achieve pregnancies. Ajayi said this was due to the certification his clinic got from the International Standards Organisation (ISO) and other international bodies on a yearly renewal basis.
This allows the Bridge to carry out works in intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), surgical sperm collection (SSC), ovum (egg) donation, Embryo Freezing, Semen Freezing, etc, sperm storage, family balancing, IVF surgery, donor sperm services, etc, which seem to justify the cost profile. In all these, Ajayi said the Bridge Clinic posed huge clinical advantage due to international collaboration, experience, high-tech prowess, and high ethical insistence.
In Port Harcourt , the rate of success has been high, he disclosed. The expert attributed this to early attention, saying most pregnancy seekers in the region seek early medical (IVF) intervention instead of going to wrong places where issues would be complicated before resorting to medical intervention, now with higher costs and higher failure rates.
On why many Nigerian IVF pregnancies lead to multiple babies, the expert said many doctors insert up to seven fertilised eggs instead of recommended maximum two. “They are eager to achieve results and so they resort to unethical methods,” he said.
Ajayi is carrying his campaign for ethical IVF practice in Nigeria and a strong call for regulation to all parts of Nigeria . His group may be drafting a memorandum that helps craft a legislation, as he said the lack of regulation had brought absence of trust in IVF practice in Nigeria , and eventual capital flight. “Most civilised people do not accept anything that does not have a seal of regulatory certification, and what they do is to travel to where such seals exist. This is why we insist on a regulated IVF environment,” he declared in Port Harcourt where he held sessions with various stakeholders in the field, including journalists and medical doctors.