‘Hannatu Kupchi is not Nigeria’s first test-tube baby’

Prof. Oladapo Ashiru

Prof. Oladapo Ashiru

THE joint pioneer of first test-tube baby or rather In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) baby in Nigeria, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, has faulted reports about Nigeria’s first test-tube baby securing admission into varsity.

Ashiru, an embryologist and endocrinologist, told The Guardian that he, in collaboration with Prof. Osato Giwa-Osagie, performed the delivery of the first IVF baby at the College of Medicine University of Lagos (CMUL)/Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) in 1989.

“However, due to fear of stigmatisation, the parents refused their consent for the child to be exposed to the media even up till now,” he said in a telephone chat from Geneva, Switzerland.

Prof. Giwa-Osagie is now the Chief Medical Director, Omni Advanced Fertility Clinic, Lagos.

The Guardian had reported in 1989: “On March 17, 1989, history was made at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital when the first test-tube baby in Black Africa (comprising of West, East and Central Africa), conceived through the delicate In-Vitro Fertilisation and Embryo Transfer (IVF-ET) method was born.

“The bouncing baby boy named, Olushina, Eghosa, Oluwaremilekun, is nature’s gift to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Pius Oni and the crowning glory of five years of painstaking research endeavours of Professors Osato Giwa-Osagie, an Obstetrician and Gyneacologist and Oladapo Ashiru, an Endocrinologist, both of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi Araba, Surulere, Lagos. The lad then, thus, became the first test-tube baby in East, West and Central Africa.”

Meanwhile, according to the newspaper reports, “Nigeria’s first test-tube baby, Miss. Hannatu Kupchi, has been given admission into a Hungarian university to study Medicine. This came 17 years after Kupchi was born at Nisa Premier Hospital in Abuja, precisely on February 11, 1998.

“Speaking at a brief ceremony to mark his send forth in Abuja on Sunday, Dr. Ibrahim Wada, the Medical Director of Nisa Premier Hospital that supervised the first IVF experiment in Nigeria stated that Kupchi’s birthday marked the fulfilment of his medical career…”

Ashiru, however, disagreed with Wada, saying that Nisa Premier Hospital feat maybe the first in northern Nigeria, not in Nigeria because it came nine years after his and Giwa-Osagie’s work in LUTH.

Ashiru told The Guardian that the IVF programme in CMUL/LUTH was verified and confirmed by two separate ministerial panels headed by Prof. T. Adesanya Ige Grillo and Prof. Adeleye from University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State, which was set up by the Federal Government. He said the then Health Ministers were Dr. Emmanuel Nsan and Prof. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti.

Ashiru said the mother of the baby was monitored during her ante-natal in LUTH and that she brought the baby to LUTH after delivery, and granted interview in the Public Relations Officer (PRO) Office of LUTH to two independent journalists, Mr. Onajomo Orere of The Guardian newspaper and Ms. Luisa Aguyi-Ironsi of Tell magazine who did extensive reporting of our success in 1989 in there paper and magazine. He said LUTH also published a special edition of its magazine to celebrate the success.

Ashiru, who is the Medical Director of Medical Art Centre (MART) Maryland, Ikeja, Lagos, and an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, United States (U.S.), further said in an e-mail to The Guardian: “Our attention has been drawn to a report in The PUNCH of September 1, 2015 entitled, ‘Nigeria’s first test-tube baby secures admission into varsity’.

“While we laud this achievement of having one of the IVF babies become one of us, it is with due sense of history and clarification of records that we must emphasise that this happened to be a case of IVF done in 1998 in Nigeria, which was 14 years after the commencement of IVF programme in Nigeria and nine years after the first test-tube baby, following the success of Professors Oladapo Ashiru, Osato Giwa-Osagie, et al in this field”.

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