■ Doctor says it’s first in Africa
From GYANG BERE, Jos
Sixty-three-year-old Mrs. Margaret Davou, a retired federal civil servant, has become the oldest woman in Africa to conceive and give birth to a baby through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). The jaw-dropping good news happened in Zawang community of Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State.
Even more heartwarming is the fact that Davou and her husband waited for 38 years to have their first child.
Expectedly, while the long dry season of childlessness persisted, Davou bore the pain of the crushing blow of infertility as she lost the respect of some in her community.
When all hope for natural conception was lost, the intricate medical process known as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) opened a door to motherhood. With courage she made four failed attempts to conceive through IVF. She was said to have passed through the painful exercise at the National Hospital and at three other notable hospitals in Abuja. Undeterred by the initial failure, and ignoring the financial implication, she was determined to cast off the stigma of childlessness and resolved to try one last time.
Her decision was buoyed up when her sister recommended Gynaeville Specialist Hospital, behind VIO Testing Ground, Off Old Airport-Rayfield Road, Jos. She went through IVF process and it turned out successful as conception occurred and she carried the pregnancy to term.
When the day of delivery arrived on May 8, 2017, the surgical procedure for the delivery began in the well-equipped theatre of the hospital, about 10 am. On hand to perform the historic, jinx-breaking delivery were some of the finest surgeons in the country. Then the glorious voice of the beautiful and healthy newborn baby was heard at 10.30 am as she let out a God-glorifying powerful wail to announce her arrival. The staff of the hospital erupted in thanksgiving.
Incidentally, Davou who retired from the administration department of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Jos, in 2012, sadly recalled her past life and confessed that she had long ago as a single lady conceived but aborted the pregnancy to enable her forge ahead with life.
Her past life, as she said, was disgusting, dirty and regrettable. Reflecting on the past always made her dejected and hurt. But God was still looking out to do her good as she recounts: “My husband repented and accepted Christ in 1982 at the Deeper Life Church, and started inviting me to the church but I refused. I was not willing to go with Christ but in 1985, I decided to join him to church and eventually I accepted Christ.
“I was a sinner and that is how I can describe my past life. When I came in contact with Christ, it was a mark of relief. I don’t want to reflect on my past life because it will hurt my feeling. I confessed to my husband and pleaded for forgiveness and that was what sustained our union.”
Mr. Davou Choji, who least expected a child in his 67-year-old sojour on earth, suddenly beamed a smile that was clear enough for even a blind man to notice. He quickly named the baby Bes Davou, a Berom native name, meaning “Miracle”.
Choji who retired from the Nigerian Air Force in 2008, was delighted to have a baby after 38 years of marriage. He described the entire episode as God’s miracle despite the usage of new medical technology.
“The journey wasn’t easy for both of us, we were worried and when the whole thing became part of us, we had to relax and look up to God. I could not believe my eyes and my ears when I saw and heard the cry of the baby. My late mother had warned me against remarriage or having children outside home and I respected her opinion that children came from God.”
He revealed that his mother battled to conceive him after the death of his immediate elder brother. According to him, it took his mother more than 10 years to conceive him.
Choji, the third child in the family of five, met his wife, Margaret in 1978 when she was living with her elder sister, Theresa Mailafiya at Lamido Road Kano and their courtship culminated into marriage in 1979.
The consultant gynaecologist, Dr. Kenneth Egwuda, the doctor in charge of Mrs. Davou’s case was terrified after listening to her predicament. He initially did not realize that his patient was almost 3 years older than the then oldest African IVF mother.
He said the age of Margaret was a barrier for conception even through IVF technology, but he noted that few cases of success with the procedure had been recorded for women above 55 years. He revealed that the oldest woman in the world to have conceived through IVF was a 65-year-old woman from India, while Mrs. Margaret is the oldest in Africa.
He said the IVF process cost the couple N700, 000 and added that both the infant and the mother were stable and would soon be discharged. “Margaret got up from her operation bed in less than 24 hours after the surgery, a situation that is unusual with conventional women; she is breast feeding the baby happily.”
Dr. Egwuda explained that it was medically impossible for Margaret to have conceived naturally and give birth at the age of 63 and stressed that the chances of her conception even through IVF were minimal.