A new milestone and feat in medical science has been achieved in Nigeria and West Africa, as Nigeria records its first successful baby, conceived and born from frozen egg. This is the 5001st in the world, and was carried out by Nigerian fertility specialists at The Bridge Clinic, a Lagos-based fertility treatment centre.
The baby conceived from frozen egg named Tiwatope, is the miracle son of a 44-year-old woman, who had suffered infertility for eight years. The mother had her eggs frozen for two months, using the vitrification (flash-freezing) process and before Tiwatope’s birth, the new practice seemed to be an exclusive preserve of the developed world of Europe and North America.
A fertility physician at the Bridge Clinic, Lagos, Dr Emmanuel Owie, said the birth of the baby on February 16, 2016, effectively puts Nigeria on the global map as regards the practice of oocyte (egg) freezing or cryopreservation, a new offering in the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) space.
Dr. Owie explains that the eggs were fertilized using a standard technique known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to overcome the egg shell which normally gets hardened with freezing.
The fertilized egg was subsequently transferred into her womb, resulting in the pregnancy with Tiwa. She had her antenatal care in her family hospital and delivered the baby boy through Caesarian Section (CS).
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, fertilized and transferred to the uterus as embryo.
This is a breakthrough technology in cryobiology, where the eggs or oocytes of a woman is dehydrated and the water content is replaced with ‘anti-freeze’ solution (cryoprotectants) before freezing.
This will prevent the formation of ice crystals which could destroy the cell.
Dr. Owie particularly recommends the egg freezing protocol for women diagnosed with cancer, who may lose their fertility during chemotherapy; women with a family history of early menopause; women with objections to storing frozen embryos for religious and/or moral reasons; and women who want to delay child-bearing in order to pursue some personal goals.
The Bridge Clinic, and medical practice in Nigeria as a whole 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.