New medical technology to treat infertility has become available in Kenya in a specialised clinic that has introduced latest methods to even the most complex reproductive problems.
The Fertility Point, an IVF (In-Vitro fertilisation) State-Of-The-Art Centre affiliated to NMC Healthcare, the largest private healthcare company in the United Arab Emirates, that has 42 fertility centres worldwide, has become a reference point for many couples with reproductive issues since it was opened in Nairobi about five months ago.
Three couples, whose names cannot be revealed due to confidentiality, explained how their fertility problems were treated using the latest diagnosis and other procedures that are not available in any other hospital locally.
Each of the couples, all aged over 40, who were the initial batch of patients at Fertility Point, have now managed to conceive after having given up following failed treatment elsewhere.
Once they reported to the clinic at Fortis Building on Hospital Road Upperhill, the first couple was subjected to specific tests that pin-pointed what hormone treatment each would undergo, before they were guided through what is known as ‘timed intercourse’. Most fertility clinics in Kenya offer the requisite hormones therapy but lack the technology that leads to precise prescription of ‘timed intercourse’ that would guarantee conception.
For the wife, treatment she was given treatment to bring her female hormones to normal after having been born with severe hormonal imbalance, while her husband who suffered low sperm count was given booster to raise hormones to build up his sperm count.
Latest ultra-sound-technology, for the first time in use in Kenya, was used to track movement of the wife’s egg cells and confirm if she had produced normal ones, once they are positioned in the fallopian tube. Oliver’s sperm cells would be monitored from the tests until they were judged fit to fertilise an egg, before his wife would be induced with hormones to release an egg cell for fertilization.
On the day that the ultra-scan confirmed the egg was positioned in the right place, under the right bodily conditions, Oliver was prepared to be in the best shape to have intercourse with his wife.
He was counselled to ensure he would not be stressed. They both had been exercising for the duration of the treatment. All tests were done on his blood to ensure he was in tip-top condition. He had been put off alcohol and fatty foods for the duration of the treatment.
His wife was also readied and checked for fitness. They were to be in their normal environment – their bedroom – and early evening, after a moderate supper, was the prescribed time for action to ensure none was fatigued. And then it was all systems go. Fifteen days after the ‘timed intercourse’ the wife was confirmed pregnant. Two months down the line, she was doing well by the time of this interview.
Dr. Sarita Sukhija, the Senior IVF Consultant and Fertility Specialist at the clinic, says the technology available at the facility has not been tested anywhere else in Kenya or the region. She says the success rate, even of the most difficult cases, is over 90 percent. Dr. Sarita is one of the few lady IVF specialist with over 19 years of experience and has performed more than 5000 IVF cycles.
Says Dr. Sukhija: “In a population like Kenya, infertility among couples runs to about 20 percent, which is the global average for developing countries. Many factors contribute to infertility in males and females, which include lifestyles, like smoking and alcohol, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, stress levels, genetic predisposition, infections, age, and others. Technology is now available to handle nearly all of them, even the most hopeless cases now stand a chance.”
Another of the latest technologies employed at the clinic is Laser Hatching. Dr. Sukhija explains the method is used when an artificially inseminated embryo, already implanted on the wall of the uterus, fails to hatch. A laser is guided to prick the thick layer of the embryo to make it hatch and start growing.
“We have already done it Kenya to about 10 couples with great success,” says Dr Sukhija.
Also done for the first time in Kenya to enhance chances of assisted conception modern technology known as Time Lapse or Embryo-Scope.
Dr Sukhija explains this method will fully replace the old technic where, once fertilisation takes place in a test tube, specialists have to keep opening the lid manually to check the results of the embryo under a microscope, thereby exposing it to the elements. But Time Lapse now uses a locked-in camera that keeps transmitting results, negating the need to interrupt the delicate stage.
Other services offered under another most modern technology include IVI (Intra-Uterine Insemination), in which sperm is artificially introduced into the womb to meet the egg. Under this method, Dr Sukhija says, technology is now available to ‘wash’ (separate) bad, weak or deformed sperms and only leave healthy ones to make the journey to fertilisation.
Another service is genetic screening of both male and female reproductive cells and removal of material that can cause harm to the growing embryo.
It is also now possible to tell the gender of the embryo within three days after fertilization, which enables specialists to isolate ay gender-specific material that could be harmful in future.
The clinic also offers freezing of reproductive cells – sperm, ova or embryo – for various reasons as a couple may desire.
Single people who may want to harvest their egg or sperm to await the right mate to have a baby with, can rent a freezing unit where the cells can be preserved for even up to 20 years, in negative 196 degrees Fahrenheit conditions.
Other reasons for freezing the cells may include sickness that could ruin chances of reproduction in future, desire for delayed parenthood or the need to donate to childless couples. When reproduction is finally needed, IVI or IVF may be used.
Mr. Ashok Mehta, the Vice President – Strategic Business Expansion & Corporate Affairs says Fertility Point is committed to offering innovative and quality solutions to infertility in Kenya and across Africa.