Test Tube Baby: Life Is Joy?
THAT Miss Hannatu Kupchi, the test-tube baby, born through in- vitro fertilisation (IVF) when it was pioneered in Nigeria has secured admission to study medicine in a Hungarian university is not only great news for her parents, it is worthy of celebration by all who appreciate life and its inherent joy.
Hannatu’s birth and subsequent growth to becoming an undergraduate is a source of pride to the Kupchi family who had endured 13 years of marriage without a child, the pleasant irony of the girl opting to become a doctor too speaks volume of her own appreciation of who she is and what is expected of her. She got her life through a process that was far from easy for her and her parents and she is ready to live that life saving lives.
Though, widely celebrated as the first IVF baby in Nigeria, Hannatus’ birth actually came nine years after the first successful IVF baby boy, Olushina Eghosa Oluwaremilekun, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Pius Oni at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba. Professors Oladapo Ashiru and Osato Giwa-Osagie, two of the best names in reproductive medicine in the world who are proudly Nigerian, performed that feat in 1989.
As a matter of fact therefore, Hannatu’s birth on February 11, 1998 at Nisa Premier Hospital in Abuja was the second in Nigeria in this field of assisted reproductive medicine. These landmark medical breakthroughs accomplished by Nigerian doctors are deserving of national acknowledgement.
Speaking during a reception and presentation of an award to Miss Kupchi the other day, the Medical Director of Nisa Hospital, who supervised the birth, Dr. Ibrahim Wada, said that Hannatu Kupchi’s case marked the fulfillment of a dream in his medical career. He said he realised while abroad that there were people who wanted babies and he came back to Nigeria to help such people. February 11, 1998, the day Hannatu was born at his hospital was naturally a great day but that the baby of that historic day is going to become a doctor made the fulfillment more dizzying.
An elated Hannatu Kupchi has promised to break barriers and become the kind of doctor who would also help parents who are unable to give birth naturally achieve their dream. She appropriately noted that by her birth, misconceptions about IVF were broken and that many more children had been born through the same process.
What else could gladden the heart of a family after years of untold anguish looking for a baby than the birth of one?
That Kupchi has come of age to go to university adds to the joy of her assisted conception and birth. This and many other feats show what is already globally acknowledged that medical practice is excellent in Nigeria and Nigerian doctors are among the best in the world with the capacity to accomplish great things if given the right environment. The onus is on government to create the conducive environment and give necessary support to the experts in different fields of medicine to develop.
Whereas, IVF is relatively new in Nigeria, the pioneering work on it was done in 1977 by Steptoe and Edwards, which resulted in the birth of the world’s first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, on July 25, 1978, at the Oldham General Hospital in the United Kingdom. About two months later, a girl named Durga, was born by the same method of in-vitro fertilisation developed by Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhyay in Kolkata, India.
Ever since then, doctors and researchers around the world have been working hard to advance this area of medical practice in the interest of childless couples.
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process whereby a woman’s egg is fertilised by the man’s sperm outside the body. Usually complicated and requiring meticulous expertise, the process involves monitoring and stimulating the woman’s ovulation. An ovum (egg) is removed from the woman’s ovary and fertilised with sperm in a liquid medium.
The fertilised egg or zygote is cultured for up to six days and then implanted in the uterus of the same or another woman to establish pregnancy.
IVF can be used in different situations. Here in Nigeria, the technique is used mainly in the treatment of infertility. Certainly joy has been brought to many families, who desire children, through IVF.
Hannatu Kupchi is testament to how life, no matter its origin, is joy that must be nurtured to its best and to its fullest.