Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Prof. Oladapo Ashiru

Prof. O.Giwa-Osagie
With reference to the allegation that Dr. Ibrahim Wada produced the first IVF baby, here’s a joint response by me and Prof. Osato Giwa-Osagie:

Our IVF programme in College of Medicine University of Lagos/LUTH was verified and confirmed by two separate ministerial panels constituted by the Federal Government. The health ministers were Dr. Emmanuel Nsan and Prof. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti. The two panels were headed by Prof. T. Adesanya Ige Grillo and Prof. Adeleye from UCH.

The mother of the baby was monitored during her antenatal in LUTH; and she brought the baby to LUTH after delivery, and granted interview to two independent journalists, Mr. Onajomo Ohrere of The Guardian newspaper and Ms. Luisa Aguyi-Ironsi of Tell magazine, both of whom did extensive reporting of our success in 1989. LUTH also published a special edition of its magazine to celebrate the success.

Our work and success have been published in scientific journals and presented at different local and international conferences.

In 1992, Bob Edwards endorsed our membership to the International Federation of Fertility Societies, based on this success.

The fact that Dr. Ibrahim Wada might be in medical school at this time does not excuse this great omission of history that had been recognized and accepted world wide.

In 1989, there was no Ministry of Science and Technology in Nigeria; so, we could not have asked them to verify our success.

Besides, the acceptable practice for announcing success of IVF globally is through the scientific forum and then the health ministry of the country. This we had done. Several other babies have been born in Nigeria and worldwide through IVF, but the land of delivery is not necessarily the land of conception – as was our case.

I advise Dr. Ibrahim Wada to claim his rightful position as the one who produced the first IVF baby in Northern Nigeria if he so desires the use of the word ‘first.’


Sunday, February 19, 2012


On 17th March 1989, human ingenuity came into play at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idiaraba, Lagos, when a team of experts from the Hospital, and the College of Medicine University of Lagos, became the first Researchers ever, to produce the test tube baby in Black Africa, comprising East, West, and Central Africa. Science Reporter STANLEY CHIBUIHEM AMALAHA, in an interview with Osato F. Giwa-Osagie OON, a “Distinguished Professor” of the University of Lagos, and three terms Head, Dept. of Obsterics & Gynaecology Lagos University Teaching Hospital, who pioneered the ground-breaking research, reports.

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 & Mrs Pius Oni and the crowning glory of five years of painstaking research endeavours of Professors Osato Giwa-Osagie, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist and Oladapo Ashiru, an Endocrinologist, both of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH Idiaraba, Surulere, Lagos.The lad then, thus, became the First Tube Baby in East, West and Central Africa.

The epoch-making event had begun in 1986 when the young couple, Stella and Pius Oni, first made contact with Prof. Osato Giwa-Osagie, the Director of Human In-Vitro Fertilisation programme LUTH. The couple had been married in 1980 and had had several unsuccessful attempts at achieving pregnancy through normal biological process. Information obtained from Prof. Osato Giwa-Osagie a distinguished Professor of obstetrics and Gynaecology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos shows that Mrs. Stella Oni, aged 34 then, was admitted to the IVF-ET in LUTH on March 9, 1988. She had lost her two fallopian tubes due to bilateral ectopic pregnancies in Liverpool, England in 1981. She had had tubal surgery in 1982. A hysterosalpingogram done on her in 1982 showed bilateral blocked tubes. Mrs. Oni had attempted IVF-ET-twice, the first in Bourn Hall clinic the pioneer centre for IVF-ET made popular by Dr. Patrick Steptoe and Dr Richard Edwards following the birth of the world’s first Test Tube Baby. Louisa Brown. Her second attempt was at St. Mary’s Hospital in Manchester. Both attempts were unsuccessful.Mrs. Oni was a textile designer married to a Nigerian Marine Engineer. The nature of her husband’s duty necessitated the course which she had lived in Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, England and Canada.After baseline pre-IVR evaluation, Mrs. Oni was accepted for IVF in LUTH and registered in the Gynecology I.V.F. Clinic of March 30, 1988. In the In-Vitro Fertilisation treatment in May/June 1988, her Last Menstrual Period (L.M.P.) was May 25th 1988. She was started on Clomiphene Pergonal injection to stimulate her ovaries and then HCG. Follicular development was monitored using serial hormone assays performed by Mr. Ayo Sanyaolu, a Chief Technologist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology laboratories, and serial cervical mucus assessment by Prof. Giwa-Osagie. Semen samples from the husband, Mr. Oni were evaluated by Prof. Oladapo Shiru


in the Department of Anatomy Laboratory and prepared for use for I.V.F. At LUTH,Mrs. Oni was admitted to Ward B2 at LUTH on June 3, 1988 and on June 6, 1988 when hormonal levels and cervical mucus samples indicated that ovarian follicles were mature, she was taken to the Modular Theatre for Laparoscopy and oocyte recovery. The follicies as well as the pouch of Douglas were aspirated. Four oocytes were recovered. Three of them were fertilised by Prof. Ashiru in the laboratory using Mr Oni’s sperms. Three embryos, each developing to the eight cell stage were transferred to the patient without anaesthesia on June 9, 1988 in the modular Theatre. She was placed on Progesterone supplements by intramuscular injection and orally. She was discharged from the Ward on June 14, 1988.Mrs. Oni had plasma hormone measurements which showed a rising B-HCG levels indicating successful implantation. She had intermittent spotting and was advised to continue on her hormone supplements. She was conformed pregnant in July 1988 through urine pregnancy test. She travelled out of Nigeria between August and October 1988. Mrs. Oni returned to Nigeria sometimes in October and was seen again in the Ante-Natal Clinic in October. November by Dr. (Mrs) O. K. Ogedengbe, a Consultant and Dr. (Mrs.) H. Williams, Resident in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The fundal height was compatible with her gestational age.

Prof. Giwa-Osagie saw her a few days later and arranged for her to be admitted to the hospital for rest at the expense of LUTH but she did not come for admission because she was afraid that there would be too much publicity about her pregnancy. She travelled abroad again to meet her husband in November 1988. Mrs. Oni delivered abroad on March 17, 1989, a baby boy weighing 2.5kg at birth. Mrs. Oni came to show her baby in LUTH for the first time on March 26, 1989. Her husband who is now based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, arrived in Lagos and came to LUTH with his wife and baby to show their appreciation to the Hospital and Professors Ashiru and Giwa-Osagie.

The birth of Olushina was a medical feat that brought with it a ray of hope. Hope for many a childless couple that theirs may not be a battle in futility; hope for aspiring researchers that there may yet be a ray of light at the end of the tunnel. The birth was the culmination of the expertise and perseverance of Professors Ashiru and Giwa-Osagie who pioneered research into In-Vitro Fertilisation in Black Africa, an endeavour once assessed as “the most credible effort” at achieving pregnancy through In-Vitro Fertilisation by a Federal Government study team.In 1984, the Research Team of Giwa-Osagie and Ashiru had reported successful development of the technique of Human Oocyte Recovery through Laparascopy, In-Vitro Fertilisation of the Human Oocyte and Embryo Development and Transfer leading to pregnancies that aborted.In 1985, following a controversial claim of an I.V.F delivery by a private hospital in Enugu hospital and efforts being made at LUTH, the Panel, headed by Prof. Osagie and Ashiru performed the technique on a patient from beginning to the end. It also interviewed a few patients who had gone through the technique previously. One of such patients was a Mrs. Ajose who was 10 weeks pregnant during the visitation but who aborted shortly after. Between 1986 and now, the team of researchers had been visited by organisation such as the W.H.O. and professional colleagues who witnessed their procedures in the theatre and the laboratory. Prof. Osagie’s personal Assistant, Mrs. Fumi Smith, who has been with him for over 25 years and when he performed the ground breaking IVF-ET research, commented that the Prof. Osagie team really produced the first test tube baby in Black Africa. Another ministerial panel headed by Prof. Adeleye visited the LUTH team in 1986.The birth of Oluwashina was one of academic and professional fulfilment for Professors Osato Giwa-Osagie and Oladapo Ashiru. It also marked the realisation of the dream of a childless couple and renewed the hope of thousands of others who have been itching to have the joy . The delivery of Nigeria’s authentic first Test Tube Baby by our Public Relations Unit was handled cautiously for several reasons. For one, the Hospital did not believe in the type of controversies that greeted such previous claims in two private hospitals in Enugu and Lagos where both the babies and their mothers remained faceless. For another, as a Teaching Hospital, we believe in verifiable claims. Above all, we have a duty and an obligation to respect the privacy of the couple who have proved most wonderfully co-operative. Nothing can beat their sense of appreciation than this letter from their Solicitor, Messrs Tinuade Oyekun & Co.“We write on behalf of our client Mrs Stella Oni one of your former patients.“We have the instruction of Mrs. Oni to express the heart-felt gratitude and sincere appreciation of both her husband and herself to you, Professor Giwa-Osagie in particular, and the entire I.V.F treatment carried out on her in June, 1988 at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, which resulted in her pregnancy and safe delivery of a bouncing baby boy on the March 17, 1989.

“In connection with granting of interviews to some Government officials and journalists, we have our client’s instructions to convey to you her willingness to grant the interviews mainly for the benefit of those women who might also have difficulties in getting pregnant and would require such medical assistance and also to appraise the public of your achievements which are available in the country without looking far away into distant lands.“Be that as it may, our client would like us to appeal to you for some degree of confidentiality which will protect their privacy”.

In separate letters of congratulation to both Professors Dapu Ashiru and Osato Giwa-Osagie, the Management Board of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital lauded the achievements of the two consultants, pointing out that the delivery of a baby within five years of painstaking research into In-Vitro Fertilisation was an indication of their degree of dedication. It noted that against the background of inadequate funding for the project, their perseverance in the face of daunting difficulties was very highly commendable. The Board praised the ability of the Consultants to have worked together for a common cause and expressed the hope that they will bring the benefits of their grand achievement to brighten the public image of the Hospital.The documentation of the birth of Olushina and other cases handled by the Research Team were accepted for presentation and subsequent publication at the XIII Federal International Congress of Anatomy held in Brazil in August.On how IVF is done, the distinguished Don who conducted the delivery of Maryam Babangida’s last child in Lagos said: “during the process, a man’s sperm is collected through masturbation and the woman’s egg by using ultrasound. The sperm is introduced into the woman’s egg with the help of a syringe and the occurrence of pregnancy is about 30 %. One attempt of IVF costs between N500, 000 and one million naira in Nigeria. Olushina is at present not in Nigeria. I saw him last about 4 years ago says the distinguished don.Prof. Giwa Osagie an Alumnus of the prestigious Cambridge University and the University of Leeds, has been championing the cause of fertility (family planning) for about 35 years.In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) which he championed at LUTH like a mustard seed in 1989 when the first test tube baby was born, has today produced 29 IVF clinics in Nigeria, 4 in Ghana, 3 in Cameroun, and also available in Togo, Senegal, Gambia, Benin Republic, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa just to mention but a few.


LAGOS, NIGERIA. Friday, January 24 2003

Assisted conception: Honour to whom it is due
By Oladapo Ashiru and Osato Giwa-Osagie

IT has become necessary for us to respond to The Guardian newspaper publication of January 17, 2003. While we join others in congratulating the Roding Centre for their success, it is pertinent to say that your allusion to the fact that the first documented IVF delivery was in 1998 is not only UNTRUE but also equally most ungenerous of your newspaper. It is on record that the first documented live delivery of a baby by IVF-ET (in-vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer-test tube baby) in Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Nigeria was in 1989. It is also on record that Professor Oladapo Ashiru and Professor Osato Giwa-Osagie carried out the procedure in LUTH. Indeed your health correspondent at that time Mr. Onajomo Orere covered the story and published it in your same The Guardian newspaper in 1989, with the picture of baby and mother. Even at that time when IVF was still relatively alien to Nigerians. The doctors, nurses, LUTH staff who assisted us are all alive today.

More importantly for the purpose of completeness, the following facts and records on IVF must be highlighted and correctly:

  • The first documented case of experimental in-vitro fertilisation in

Nigeria was in 1983 by Ashiru and Abisogun

  • The first documented case of HUMAN in-vitro fertilisation in

Nigeria was in 1984 by Ashiru, Giwa-Osagie and Abisogun.

  • The first documented delivery of live baby from IVF-ET conception was in 1989 by Giwa-Osagie and Ashiru.

  • Between 1989 and 1994 we were able to treat several cases of

infertility and with the technique of IVF-ET from LagosUniversity Teaching Hospital Modular Theatre. The embryology laboratory moved from Anatomy department of the College of Medicine to the Modular Theatre. Professor Ashiru and Professor Giwa-Osagie manned the entire IVF programme. Resident doctors and postgraduate doctors assisted them. No expatriates. It was purely Nigerian effort.

These reports were documented, published, and presented at several national and international journals, conferences, and peer review seminars. Indeed our work won the gold medal award by the Anatomical Society of Great Britain in 1984 for outstanding research. There were visitations to our centre by the then Minister of Health Dr. Emmanuel Nsan in 1985, and he commended our efforts. The Federal Government raised a panel in 1985 led by the late Prof. Adesanya Ige Grillo, they saw us carry out the IVF-ET procedure from beginning to the end and commended our work. The main reason was: this was at a time when IVF had not started in several European countries and really not more than a dozen IVF groups existed worldwide. At that time, only LUTH, Lagos and South Africa had succeeded in IVF. St. Nicholas Hospital Lagos succeeded with the GIFT technique. All the above observations were well covered in several Nigerian newspapers, local and international magazines and bulletins. Your very newspaper The Guardian is no exception.

In 1994 Professor Ashiru went on sabbatical leave and then in 1996 on leave of absence, to start a new University-based IVF programme for the University of Illinois at Chicago. That was when the LUTH programme stopped. However, Giwa-Osagie and Ashiru had already established the fact that the procedure is very possible and doable in Nigeria. Between 1994 and now IVF programme moved from the LUTH to the private clinics. There have since been several reports of deliveries following IVF by many of the clinics. In Lagos alone there are now four IVF clinics. Unlike 10 years ago when it had to be verified especially coming from a University environment most of the reports are not verified but accepted on their face value, even though many of such reports have been from artificial insemination ONLY. This is the situation since it is no longer history. For instance any report about human cloning today would require and demand immediate verification.

Finally, it is important to underscore the differences in the IVF reports being made across the country, which responsible and good journalism must recognise. There are IVF programmes in Nigeria that are manned by expatriates that come in and out of the country periodically; and, there are those that are manned by Nigerians primarily. Although they all achieve the same objectives and are all commendable, a distinction must be very clear in our minds and our journalists for the purpose of national heritage. It is like the Nigerian Airways with Nigerian pilots or the Nigerian Airways with expatriate pilots. One indicates a complete mastery, modification and development of technology while the latter does not. It goes without saying that the pioneering efforts of ours were very difficult and yet we succeeded. People should desist from attempting to re-write history.

Once again, we congratulate the new arrival into the IVF club for a job well done, but would still like to emphasise that history is only useful when it is presented in full unbiased form. It is greatness that recognises the pioneering efforts of fore-runners in the field who were there before so that they too would be remembered. Just as we continue to give recognition to the pioneering efforts of Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards of Oldham and Cambridge in 1976 (first human IVF) and in 1978 (first live baby from IVF); Ashiru and Giwa-Osagie need their pride of place in the history of assisted reproductive technology in Nigeria for their pioneering work in 1984 (first human IVF) and in 1989 (first live baby from IVF).

Ashiru and Giwa-Osagie are Professors of Medicine.

© 2002 - 2003 @ The Guardian Newspapers Limited (All Right Reserved).
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The History of IVF in Nigeria

By Oyeyemi Gbenga Mustapha

In Nigeria, the first attempt at using the technique of in-vitro fertilisation came as result of the research done by Prof. Oladapo Ashiru in his Reproductive Endocrinology Laboratory at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos.
Prof Ashiru and his postgraduate student, Dr Akin Abisogun, started the research in1983 and this led to the successful in-vitro fertilisation and pregnancy of rats. This experimental work published and presented at several national and international conferences, such as the proceedings of the anatomical Society of West Africa in 1984.

Human IVF
Prof Oladapo Ashiru and his team in the Department of Anatomy and Prof Osato Giwa-Osagie of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) also started the process of Assisted Reproductive Technology in humans in the latter part of 1983. The first pregnancy ended as a miscarriage in 1984.

The announcement of the success attracted the visitation of a ministerial team to the College of Medicine/LUTH headed by the then Minister of Health, Dr Emmanuel Isan. His panel commended the efforts of Prof Ashiru and Giwa-Osagie. Another panel constituted by the minister headed by Prof T. I. A. Grillo visited the team in LUTH. It concluded that it was actually the only team doing IVF in Nigeria and they should be commended for their efforts in IVF technology. The late Prof Olikoye Ransome-Kuti as a minister set up another panel headed by Prof Adeleye from the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan to see how the team in LUTH could be funded.
Even though they acknowledged and commended their work, no money came to support the project.

In 1985, Dr Olatubosun and his team from St. Nicholas reported a delivery of a baby from Gamete Intra Fallopian Transfer (GIFT). In 1986, the Ashiru and Giwa-Osagie team also reported the delivery of a baby from GIFT. This was a nursing member of staff from LUTH. The first delivery of a baby through in-vitrofertilisation (IVF) in LUTH occurred in 1989 by Giwa-Osagie and Ashiru with the delivery of a baby girl. The mother had lost her two fallopian tubes from ectopic pregnancies in the United Kingdom (UK) and had become pregnant from her first IVF attempt in LUTH. This was the first in Nigeria and, indeed, in West Africa and East Africa. The success was reported and published widely both at national and international fora.

IVF from 1990 to 2000
In 1994, Prof Ashiru relocated to the United States of America to continue working in the field of Assisted Reproductive Technology. Though several Nigerians were able to have babies from his Chicago experience, but the IVF work in LUTH came to a halt.
In 1998, Dr Wada and his team at Nosa-Premier (Nordica)Hospital reported the successful pregnancy from embryo transfer in Abuja. This was followed by the first report of a successful fertilisation and delivery of a baby from ICSI by Dr Richard Ajayi and his team at the Bridge Clinic in Lagos in 2001.

Spread and proliferation of IVF clinics from 2001 till date
Apart from the above, other centres have reported births from IVF in their clinics, they include Dr Iketubosun in Lagos, 2002; Dr Igoeli in Aba, 2003; Dr Ogunkoya in Lagos, 2003; Dr Abayomi Ajayi, Nordica, Lagos, 2004; Dr Alasa Kingscare, Abuja, 2005; Dr Idahosa, DIFF, Abuja, 2005, National Hospital, Abuja 2006 and Prof Orhue and his team at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital,2007.
In addition, some centres reported successes from various new types of Assisted Reproductive technology.
They include the first report of birth from a patient with Turner’s syndrome through donor egg by Prof Giwa-Osagie and his team at the Advanced Fertility Centre, Lagos. In 2006. Prof Ashiru and his team at the Medical Art Centre, Lagos made the report of birth from IVF-ICSI following Pre-IVF Fluid Instillation Hysterosonography (PIFIS) and subsequent Ultrasound Guided Embryo Transfer (UGET) in a 42-year -old lady with 12 years primary infertility. Dr Abayomi Ajayi of Nordica, Lagos reported a 56 -year -old who received treatment in his clinic and delivered safely.

National Statistics
There is no national body regulating the practice aside the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN). Some of the experts are concerned about quacks ripping people off and are already making attempts to compile national statistics in Nigeria. However, most of the IVF centres have reported a success rate. Some known centres Advanced Fertility Clinic, Lagos, Bridge Clinic, Lagos, Hope Valley Fertility Centre, Lagos, Kingscare Hospital, Abuja, Medical Art Centre (MART), Lagos,National Hospital, Abuja, Nisa Premier/Nordica, Abuja, University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Benin and Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos and Asaba.