In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) over time has changed the future for infertile couples around the world and erased the stigma of barrenness – especially for the womenfolk.
Record shows that some five million babies have been born through the process in the last three decades, making the revolutionary scientific advancement just another routine medical treatment.
IVF is a process of combining an egg (ovum) with sperm to achieve fertilisation outside the female body. The very first IVF baby – Louise Brown, it would be recalled, was born 39 years ago (1978).
Recently, the organisers of Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation (IIF), along with some other donors, have teamed up with some reputable fertility clinics in Nigeria to provide financial and material support for couples in need of the treatment.
The brainchild of Ighodalo, former beauty queen, IIF also provides the necessary psychological and spiritual support required to deal with the pressures couples face along the journey to conception.
The Parent-in-Waiting conference was conceived to raise awareness on issues pertaining to infertility and to provide grants for couples that require fertility treatments such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intrauterine Insemination.
At “The First Parent-in-Waiting Conference” organised by the IIF Foundation, Mrs. Ituah-Ighodalo disclosed her quest for a child was painstaking, leading her to explore all the legal options available.
She disclosed that almost every step she took towards her goal was met with so many obstacles that she considered suicide as a way out.
“I thought that, if I cannot have a child, there was nothing worth living for. However, several doctors had foreclosed I cannot become a mother, unless it came through assisted reproduction.
Before then, I had waited for the fruit of the womb for over a decade, but even the decision to go through the IVF option was hotly contended with.”
After eleven IVF treatments, the desperate mother had only one conception, but sadly, she lost the baby.
Responding at the “First Parent-in-Waiting” conference, Founder and Senior Pastor of the Kingsway International Christian Centre, Mr. Matthew Ashimolowo who described Ibidunni Ighodalo as a ‘wounded healer’ noted that she launched her foundation and kicked off the grant only last year ostensibly to help couples overcome the financial, spiritual and psychological trauma of waiting for a child.
For the more than 50 couples in the Agip Recital Hall of the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos, this was another defining moment as the confab offered a new chance for couples whose hope is hanging in the balance.
As Ashimolowo, mounted the stage, eerie silence enveloped the hall. The chatter and clapping which accompanied his introduction had died. All eyes were on him. All ears primed to what he had to say.
For this year, about 381 applications were received by the foundation out of which 100 were screened. Fifty passed the scrutiny of the medical team, but the foundation could only afford to sponsor 10.
Even though she had set out to help one couple at a time, the compassionate woman is always heart-broken to learn there are many candidates who cannot be accommodated in her funding.
The Daily Times gathered that over N1.3 million is needed to sponsor IVF and other methods of assisted reproductive procedures for one couple alone.
In addition to the stigma of waiting for their own children, many of these couples are already sagging under the financial pressure of visiting doctors, hoping against hope that the next appointment might just result in the long expected miracle.
As Ashimolowo started to read the names randomly, sighs of relief and despair filled the hall. Caught in the excitement of the moment, a few husbands went ahead of their wives, although it was the woman’s name that was called!
Not a few wiped streams of tears rolling down their faces as they walked up the stage, knelt down and raised their hands in thanks giving to God.
Three couples whose names made the list but did not show up, were replaced after their names were called repeatedly. To support the good cause, Ashimolowo announced he would sponsor two, raising the number to 12.
Shouts of joy filled the hall as Mr. Tonye Cole of Sahara Group offered to finance the treatment for two other couples, moving Ashimolowo to add another couple. At the end of the day, 15 couples were given access to the IIF grant.
Ashimolowo encouraged other couples who didn’t make the list and prayed for those who did, that their testimonies will be complete.
In 2016, the foundation partnered with certified fertility clinics in Nigeria to provide fertility services to 28 couples. Success stories from the first batch include 15 successful treatment, five confirmed pregnancies and one successful delivery.
A beneficiary of the grant, Bodunrin and Lola Oye, recently welcomed a set of twins, the first by the foundation!
Expectation for greater successes in 2017 soared as the conference bubbled to a higher octave, drawing prolonged laughter and excitement in the hall, as preacher of sex education, Ruth Essien, entertained the audience with her unabashed lecture on the dynamics of sexual intercourse.
The organisers deliberately positioned Essien to rattle some couples out of self-righteousness and frigidity to engage themselves in fulfilling sex without inhibition.