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Black History Month celebrates a pioneer for IVF in Nigeria

October is Black History Month, so let’s celebrate the contributions of black people to assisted conception.

I had the pleasure of working with a great Nigerian back in the 1990s: Dr Fidelis Akagbosu.

At the time, Fidelis was working at the Bourn Hall clinic in the UK. He had a dream of setting up an IVF clinic in his home country of Nigeria. He had heard that I had experience of establishing successful IVF clinics, so contacted me and invited me to join him. So began a great adventure and friendship.

In 1997, in the town of Gwagwalada, an hour drive from Abuja, a small house was converted into a clinic.

We faced plenty of challenges though! For example, the unreliable power supply caused complete electricity outages followed by sudden surges. This led to our two incubators short-circuiting. Fortunately, as one blew, the other had just been repaired, so we managed to move the precious IVF embryos in between.

We treated our first batch of patients in June 1997 and achieved our first live birth 9 months later. Wow, did we celebrate!

Dr Fidelis and Dr Woodward at the first IVF clinic in Gwagwalada, Nigeria in 1997. Taking a break after completing the first ever IVF run resulting in the first IVF baby for the area.

Fidelis went on to establish several more clinics in his homeland and was the driving force for IVF working in Nigeria.

Sadly Fidelis passed away last year. So in Black History Month, let’s celebrate Dr Fidelis Akagbosu, the calm, kind-hearted humble professional that made it happen.

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