The Bridge Clinic, Lagos on February 16, 2016 put Nigeria on the global map in the practice of oocyte cryopreservation, a new offering in the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) Space with the birth of Nigeria first baby conceived through the oocyte freezing protocol.
The male child was named Tiwatope. The oocyte was preserved through cryopreservation, which is the cooling of cells and tissues to sub-zero temperatures to stop biological activity and preserve the cells for future use.
Human oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing) is a process in which a woman’s eggs (oocytes) are extracted, frozen and stored. Later, when she is ready to become pregnant, the eggs can be thawed, fertilised and transferred to the uterus as embryo.
According to the fertility physician with The Bridge Clinic, Dr. Emmanuel Owie, who broke the news, Tiwatope’s birth was significant in Nigeria's health sector.
“Before his birth, this new practice seemed to be an exclusive preserve of the developed world of Europe and North America. It is even more significant considering the fact that since the report of the first pregnancy through this protocol in 1986, the practice has resulted in the birth of only about 5,000 babies worldwide,” he stated.
Dr. Owie said Tiwatope’s mother had her eggs frozen using the vitrification, also known as flash-freezing process – the cutting edge technology in cryobiology, where the eggs or oocytes of a woman are 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.
Tiwatope’s parents had battled infertility for eight years, but the clinic had the mother’s eggs frozen for two months.
Dr. Owie explained: “We fertilised the eggs using a standard technique, known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to overcome the egg shell, which normally gets hardened with freezing.
“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).”
The clinic’s coordinator, Corporate Marketing/Communication and Client Relations, Dr. Ekundayo Omogbehin, said the baby and the mother were in good health.