By Martins Ifijeh
Nigeria has recorded the first successful delivery of a baby conceived from frozen egg by a woman in her early 40s, who had suffered infertility for eight years, making it the first in the country and in West Africa.
The birth and conception of the baby boy, named Tiwatope, were carried out by The Bridge Clinic, an indigenous fertility centre based in Lagos, where the mother had her eggs frozen using the vitrification (flash-freezing) process.
Tiwatope is the 5001st baby from frozen egg in the world.
Announcing the feat, a fertility physician with the Bridge Clinic, Dr. Emmanuel Owie, said the birth of Tiwatope on February 16, 2016, effectively puts Nigeria on the global map as regards the practice of egg freezing or cryopreservation, a new offering in the in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) space.
“Tiwatope’s mother had her eggs frozen for two months, using the vitrification, also known as flash-freezing, process. This is the cutting edge technology in cryobiology, where the egg of a woman is dehydrated and the water content replaced with ‘anti-freeze’ solution (cryoprotectants) before freezing. This will prevent the formation of ice crystals which could destroy the cell,” he explained.
According to him, the clinic fertilised the eggs using a standard technique, known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to overcome the egg shell, which normally gets hardened with freezing.
Owie continued. “The fertilised egg was subsequently transferred into her womb, resulting in the pregnancy of Tiwatope. She had her antenatal care in her family hospital and delivered the baby boy through caesarian section (SC).”
“At The Bridge Clinic, we celebrate Tiwa’s birth as it is a further demonstration of our coming of age in the practice of assisted reproductive technology. It is a show of the sum of our strengths — our people, our process and our infrastructure. It demonstrates our commitment to global best practices which ensures that our offerings are in tandem with what is obtainable in the developed world, both in variety and in quality.”
He said: “This offering is being delivered to many women in the developed world and is now being offered in Nigeria at a cost more affordable than what is obtained abroad. We encourage women who need this service to come up and have their eggs cryopreserved.”
Also speaking, Coordinator, Corporate Communications and Customer Client Relations, The Bridge Clinic, Dr Dayo Omogbehin, stated: “We are the first in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) centre in Nigeria to achieve this success. It is great news for the family and fertility health research in the country and world at large.”
Omogbehin said although sperm and embryos had proved easy to freeze, the egg was the largest cell in the human body and contains a large amount of water. He said: “When frozen, ice crystals form that can destroy the cell. We must dehydrate the egg and replace the water with an ‘anti-freeze’ prior to freezing in order to prevent ice crystal formation.
“We also learned that because the shell of the egg hardens when frozen, sperm must be injected with a needle to fertilise the egg using a standard technique known as Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection.”