|State-of-the-art theatre at Lily Hospital, Warri, Delta State, Nigeria|
Hundreds of hitherto barren partners are now having babies through the delicate breakthrough process known as In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) at Lily Hospital in Warri, Delta state.
The Guardian learnt that over 200 babies have been delivered through IVF at the privately-owned Hospital, which is reportedly pioneering the method in the Niger Delta region and has acquired state-of-the-art medical equipment for IVF births as well as paraphernalia for urology, orthopedic, otorhinolaryngology (treatment of ear, nose and throat) and key-hole surgery among others – all in the effort to end medical tourism by Nigerians.
The facilities at the Lily Hospital are said to be a relief to Nigeria’s deficient health sector as medical experts from other parts of the world including doctors from India team up with Nigerian doctors to give specialist medicare to patients, several of who are tourists from outside Nigeria.
Director of the IVF programme at the Lily Hospital, Dr. Louis Alekwe, told The Guardian that over 200 babies had been successful delivered via the IVF procedure at the hospital. He said even barren women over 50 years old have had babies including women who don’t have womb – as a surrogate mothers could be arranged to bear the pregnancy.
According to the doctor, even if a woman does not have a womb another woman could be made to carry the pregnancy for her. “That is if the woman’s eggs and the man’s sperm were used the IVF process the baby will look exactly like the man or woman because it is a genetic thing; the genes you are look at.”
He explained: “Many couples come here with their marriage at the brinks. We try to counsel them that what they really need is hope. There is really no reason why anybody should not have a child now; most people can be helped. If they can come forward most people can be helped. There are very few you cannot do anything for. There are always fears.”
Alekwe recalled a touching IVF case he handled at the hospital involving an elderly man married to a woman of about 34 years. Despite marrying for several years they remained childless.
“The man didn’t believe they could have baby through IVF. The woman came to me I checked her out and she was okay, then I invited the husband the man kept refusing. The woman broke down and cried. Later the man came we checked him there was no sperm in the ejaculate but we discovered that every other thing was okay with him. So it might have been a blockage of the testis and where the sperm comes out from. So we said let us try the testis if we will find sperm and when we found sperm – the man was happy! It was like a major victory, we had her IVF done and the woman had a beautiful baby girl.
“The husband did not believe he felt that what we were doing was a scam until the pregnancy came out and he believed. After then she had had two other babies through IVF.”
He disclosed that there are cases where the man’s testis is not producing sperm and that the man will have to decide whether to accept a sperm from another man – as there is hardly medical remedy to the condition – and that it is quite difficult to accept by some men.
On the common belief in Nigeria that childlessness was always the fault of women, the doctor said infertility is not only a problem associated with women but that it cuts across both men and women on 30 per cent ratio.
“It is more difficult for the men to accept- most of the time the women are willing, even when you tell a woman she doesn’t have eggs she is always willing to accept eggs from the other women, men find it much more difficult. Some women come here with the two tubes blocked, we go ahead and do the IVF. The normal process of conception is the man sleeps with the woman and deposit sperms there, they travel and get into the tubes the woman releases her eggs. The eggs enter this tube so the sperm and the egg meets there and they form the baby, so if this is blocked there is no way the egg and sperm can meet naturally. The usual cause of blockage most times is infection,” Alekwe said.
It was learnt that Nigerians and non Nigerians come from the United Kingdom (U.K.), Ireland, Canada, United States (U.S.) and other African countries on medical visit to the hospital because they reportedly discovered that even though the standard are the same as those in the advanced countries services are cheaper especially when air fares are factored in.
Delta State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, recently commissioned the massive four-storey edifice housing the Lily Hospital with its modern medical equipment ranging from dopler scans, CT scans, 3D and 4D scan, ECG, Spirometry and Audiometry, and he said that with the up-to-date equipment he saw at the hospital that there was no need for Nigerians to embark on medical tourism.
A computerised tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of the body. An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that records the electrical activity of the heart. Spirometry is a test that can help diagnose various lung conditions, most commonly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). An audiometry exam tests your ability to hear sounds.
Similarly, the operating officer at Lily Hospitals, Dr. Austin Godwin Okogun, told The Guardian that with the advancement in the medical sector in Nigeria there was no need for Nigerians to travel out of the country to seek medical aid as several private hospitals in the country including Lily were now equipped with latest tools to manage any medical condition.