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Remembering two fertility specialists

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

This blog isn’t about our clinic in Leicester, but rather it is about two of our fertility colleagues Dr Fidelis Akagbosu and Dr Tony Hirsh.

Fidelis Akagbosu

Fidelis passed away from Pancreatic Cancer in July 2019. He was a fertility specialist who practised at various clinics in the UK, most notably at the Bourn Hall in Cambridge. I met Fidelis back in 1990s, when he contacted me to ask if I might help him to establish the first IVF clinic in his home country of Nigeria. Fidelis had heard I was a specialist in embryology and hoped I could help him.

When we first met, I realised we had a lot in common. We were both driven to provide first-class fertility services and were both specialists trained in the UK. And we were both ready for the challenge of setting up an IVF clinic in Nigeria!

Back in the nineties, Nigeria was under military rule. The UK had stopped flights, so we had to fly with KLM via Amsterdam. We faced numerous challenges setting up a clinc in the rural town of Gwagwalada. This was the chosen location as it was a University town, an hour drive from the capital Abuja. We had no air-con and unreliable power, whilst trying to maintain sterility, train the staff and provide the best care we could for the fertility patients.

We performed our first egg collections in 1996. And amazingly our first live birth took place 9 months later! We were so happy to have succeeded in bringing successful IVF treatment to Nigeria!

Due to various reasons, Fidelis couldn’t stay in Nigeria at that time, so he continued with his UK practice and we would fly out ever few months to help more couples. Fidelis then moved to the US, but always had a dream to set up a clinic in Lagos to offer first-class fertility care in Nigeria.

In 2016, I was helping Fidelis to fulfil that dream. We had chosen a location, signed the lease, and shipped all of the equipment. Fidelis was making plans to move back to Lagos and I was planning to come over to help with his first patients at the new clinic.

And then, I received a phone call from Fidelis. That dreadful call. He told me that he had been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. He would start cancer therapy immediately. That was the last call we had. Sadly, Fidelis went downhill fairly quickly.

His daughter phoned me from the hospital on his final day. She put the receiver to his ear and I said goodbye. She told me he acknowledged the call. I hope so.

So every August, we raise money for Pancreatic Cancer UK via their campaign “31 miles in August”. It’s a little way to say thanks to our amazing colleague and friend.

If you would like to support this campaign, please contact the clinic. If you do, thank you for your incredible support – because with your help, we can help to transform the future so that more people can survive Pancreatic Cancer.

And thanks Fidelis, for our great adventures helping people to achieve their dreams of having families in Nigeria and across the globe.

Tony Hirsh

Tony was a leading andrologist in the UK. He trained in London at King’s College and the Westminster Hospital Medical School. He won a Nuffield travelling scholarship to Uganda, where he spent his elective in the year before he qualified.

I met Tony when he came out to Nigeria to perform the first surgical sperm retrievals and to teach the local urologist how to perform the technique. Together we helped the conceptions of the first ICSI babies in Nigeria.

Tony was one of the first surgeons to trained in microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA), and was one of the first to use this technique in the UK for men with obstructive azoospermia. He then advanced to micro-TESE, to help men with non-obstructive azoospermia, by retrieving just a few sperm from seminiferous tubules.

This photo was taken on one of our days off when we visited the Gurara waterfalls in Niger state in north-west Nigeria.

Tony passed away from in March 2018 after a battle with Parkinson's disease.

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