Eureka! Finally, UPTH Delivers First IVF Baby By Otikor Samuel

Cheering news came the way of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital at the beginning of the New Year as its Assisted Conception Unit (ACU) produced the first baby from the hospital's In-Vitro-Fertilization (IVF) programme. The facility was established to assist couples who are unable to produce children through the natural process of reproduction.  
A visibly-enthused head of the ACU Unit, Professor John Ikimalo, broke the cheering news to UniPort News in an interview on Thursday, January 10, 2019. Professor Ikimalo disclosed that the Unit recorded the feat shortly after opening shop with the stated aim of assisting childless couples who are desperate to carry their own babies.
On the first baby delivered through the assisted intervention of the Unit, Professor Ikimalo disclosed that “the baby boy with a birth weight of 4.5kg was delivered on Monday, January 7, 2019 by a 34-year old lady (name withheld), who had been married for 10 years without conceiving normally. This achievement was made possible by the combined effort of a highly skilled team of doctors, nurses, embryologists and administrative staff of the Unit.” 
Professor Ikimalo, who provided background information on how the Unit was established, recalled that the high prevalence of infertility in developing countries informed the establishment of the Unit. “Two, out of every three women seen in the gynaecology clinic have infertility problems. Damage to the reproductive tract or organs from previous infections and surgeries are major causes of infertility in both women and men. Treatment for these damaged organs such as repair of blocked fallopian tubes has been very disappointing over the years and so many couples were left hopeless. Some were at the mercy of faith-based healers and sundry service providers,” Professor Ikimalo stated.
He revealed that activities in the Unit commenced on November 1, 2017 with weekly meetings, consultations, scanning and recruitment of patients. On commencement, the Unit, according to him, secured collaboration with the Departments of Haematology and Chemical Pathology to run tests. “Our clients are very emotional and special to us so we do not want them to be roaming around the laboratories,” Professor Ikimalo said.
He commended both past and present Chief Medical Directors of the Teaching Hospital for their unalloyed support towards the establishment and growth of the IVF Unit. “We would like to seize this opportunity to thank our past Chief Medical Directors, Dr. Uriah Etawo, Professor Aaron Ojule and the present CMD, Professor Henry Ugboma for their faith and strong support for the Unit. We also acknowledge the support and donation of equipment, furniture and consumables by G-Systems Limited, Skye Bank, Sterling (now Polaris) Bank, Dr. Ibrahim Wada and NISA Prime Fertility Centre,” the Head of Unit added.  
It would be recalled that Professor Ikimalo had in July 2017 conducted a Correspondent of UniPort News round the facility, following which he disclosed that the hospital had the equipment and expertise to deliver quality services to clients in Assisted Reproductive Technologies with the availability of equipment for artificial insemination, In-Vitro-Fertilisation, Intra-cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) and donor cycle—egg and sperm donation. 
“We also provide surrogacy and freezing facilities for gametes and we have everything that is available in a typical hospital setting to deliver quality services to prospective clients. Apart from the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), UPTH is the only public hospital that has ART in the South-South and South-East zones. The reason it is important to have this facility in a public hospital is that the cost of accessing the service in a private hospital is very high. Here, we ensure that the cost is reduced to the extent that we are the cheapest in the South-South and South-East zones,” Professor Ikimalo had stated.


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