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Published On: Sun, Sep 3rd, 2017

Prof Oladapo Ashiru: Nigeria’s golden boy of medical science innovation

OBINNA EZUGWU|

Through his scientific innovations in reproductive health, in In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), an assisted reproductive technology (ART) – the process of fertilization by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish – Professor Oladapo Ashiru (OFR), founder of Medical Art Centre; a specialized reproductive endocrinology and fertility centre based in Ikeja Lagos, has restored homes on the brink of collapse on account of childlessness; made “infertile” men proud fathers and “barren” women joyous mothers. He is an innovator like no other.
Ashiru’s initial breakthrough came in 1984 when himself and his team produced the first IVF baby in Africa, and in 1986, they successfully delivered the first test tube baby on the continent. They have not looked back since then. Today, the centre can look back and count hundreds of babies it has produced, and numerous homes it has restored. At the Centre’s website, testimonies abound. Some say they had lost hope, others say it was a miracle. Prof Ashiru says: “Come and have your baby.”
“If you have lived with your husband for 14 months and conception is not forthcoming you should visit the clinic for help to seek help early is the best way,” he said in an interview.
“Through this, God has enabled us to achieve thousands of babies, thereby putting smiles on the faces of thousands of families.
“Nothing is unexplainable when it comes to helping childless couples to achieve pregnancy and have live babies. It is just that some causes of infertility require more effort in order to identify the cause.
“Electronic gadgets cause infertility in men. They should avoid tight-fitted pants, heat from their laptop, taking it closer to their private part; avoid taking hot bath, sitting down for a long while. Those that work with chemical are also prone to have low sperm count. And also they should avoid environmental toxic and some hypertension drugs.”
On September 30, Ashiru will join other Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in their respective areas of business to receive Business Hallmark’s Outstanding Achievements in the Promotion of Assisted Reproductive Technology Award for these notable contributions in the field of reproductive endocrinology.
He is a leading light in the medical science field, a trailblazer deserving of accolades. Through his researches, he proved that exogenous FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) has a positive feedback on the release of endogenous FSH, which is the basic science behind the use of exogenous gonadotropins (Pergonal, Metrodin and others) for extra follicular development, in infertility management and IVF cycles. Presently, his field of research is in embryo culture techniques and implantation failure.
He had also successfully delivered sickle cell free baby through the Preimplantation Genetic Testing for single gene defect, also known as PGD/PGS.
Ashiru has an MB.BS, from the University of Lagos; M.Sc and Ph.D from the Universities of Nebraska at Omaha, United States. He equally holds HCLD, FASN and FNSEM.
He was appointed Consultant reproductive Endocrinologist to Lagos University Teaching Hospital in 1980 and Professor of Anatomy in 1983, making him the youngest appointed professor in Nigeria at the age of thirty two. He was reproductive Endocrinologist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Omaha in 1978.
He obtained a joint appointment at the departments of Anatomy and Obstetrics and Gynecology in the University of Illinois, Chicago at Professorial level. He established two IVF programmes for the University in 1996 and became the pioneer director of the University based IVF program at Chicago that same year. It is currently one of the best IVF centres in the US. He has also established collaborations with several infertility centres internationally.
Ashiru obtained the licentiate of the American Board of Bioanalysis in High Complexity Laboratory Director HCLD (ABB) in 1997(The American regulatory and licensing body for assisted reproduction technologies). He is the author of “Want a Baby,” a book that details the causes, management and treatment of infertility.

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