Meet a Lagos fertility specialist, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi who is also the Medical Director of NORDICA Fertility Centre.
Dr Abayomi Ajayi is a Lagos Fertility specialist. Over the last few years, he has earned a reputation for helping many celebrity couples have babies. He is a product of the College of Medicine, University of Lagos from where he graduated in 1984. He completed his postgraduate training at The University College Hospital, Ibadan in 1994 with the Fellowship of the West African College of Surgeons in Obstetrics and Gynecology. He then joined the services of Lagoon Hospital, Apapa as Consultant Obstetrician/Gynecologist in February, 1995, and held this position till October, 2002 when he left to start Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos.
During his stay at Lagoon Hospital, Dr. Ajayi was the co-coordinator of the Outpatient Services of the Hospital. And with Nordica clinic, he has been able to put smiles on a lot of couples who are fertility challenged. He has an interesting success story to tell.In this interview, he tells his Nordica success story.
Could you make a brief of your family and educational background?
I hail from the family of late Mr. and late Mrs. Ebenezer Oludotun Ajayi. I’m from Abeokuta in Ogun State. We were born three and I’m the eldest of them – two males and a female.
My father was an exceptional disciplinarian. He brought us up in a different way. Then, it was tough but now, I give thanks to them because those trainings were what shaped me. Unfortunately, these are the good things we don’t pass on to our children.
We say things have changed but I don’t think values have changed. We are fast losing those values. Call it civilisation or so, but it’s bad. Parents don’t have time for their children anymore.
When I was in secondary school, my father was self employed. So, he would be waiting for me at home after school, and God so help me that I come back late, then I would explain to him why I came back late. You don’t find these things now. Too bad!
I trained in Nigeria all through and that is why after health, I’m interested in Nigerian education. All my trainings were done here in Nigeria. It was when I finished my post graduate that I moved abroad for other professional courses.
I started my primary school education at Salvation Army and moved to CMS Grammar School for my secondary school education. Then, University of Lagos for my first degree in Medicine, after which, I did my Post Graduate Programme at UCH, Ibadan.
At what point did you then discover your calling?
I think when I was in secondary school. I wanted to be an Aeronautic Engineer in my early year, first 2 years of secondary school. But one day, I went to LUTH, I think I was in Form 3, they were conducting some research and wanted students to come an do the exercise. So I was chosen from CMS grammar school, so I came to LUTH, and that was my first contact with Medical students, and I just fell in love with them. That was when I knew I wanted to become a doctor.
You are trained Gynecologist, when then did you decide to become a fertility doctor?
That is why I said that there are some things that God gives to you. One thing I know that God gave me is that, I always like to take side with people who are suffering. Anywhere I go to, when I see people suffer, it touches me and I don’t know why. And I want to always help out. One part is that I saw that in Medicine, many women where dying from child birth. Then I said to myself, how I can help? That was what made me to be a gynecologist in the first place. And even when they were teaching us, the easiest subject to me was gynecology. And when I started gynecologic training, that was when I saw that, there were group of people that had infertility and it was as if they were helpless. You see some of them are achievers in their own right but because they don’t have children, they tend to ignore all they have achieved and focus on just this particular situation. And Doctor were not really doing much to help them. I remember those days in UCH that we use to have meetings, especially when it comes to infertility, what we just tell them is that they have to go and pray. This came up often, so I started asking questions, and started looking out for what they do in other countries for this people with infertility and the answer was IVF. And that was what made me to start looking at how to go into it, and of course it took me 11 years to achieve that, and here we are today.
Can you then take us back on the story of Nordica, how you started and what has helped you so far to survive all the challenges faced on the job?
We started April 14, 2003. First thing that has brought us this far, is the grace of God, secondly is focus. For any business to be successful, and I mean any, there must be someone who is charting the business on his back, who is ready to go through some discomfort. Of course, every business will start with some very unpleasant phase, but if you persist, it’s just a matter of time. The problem is that, many people start something, because of the rough period, the incubation period, they lose interest. But if you suffer long enough, you are going to be successful. It’s not peculiar to Nordica alone, its every business, but the thing is for you to see the people who are focused, who say look, its either we succeed or we perish with it. And that is what makes anything successful.
How did you get to where you are today, despite the challenges?
Well, I don’t know which position I’m now but everything is God’s favour. God favoured us for the fact that we were willing to launch into an unknown territory.
About 11 years ago, when we moved into fertility treatment in Nigeria, it was still an unknown terrain that the people were saying it would not work due to poor infrastructure.
In fact, fertility treatment requires a lot of infrastructure and basically, I would say that the problem anybody who wants to go into this sector will face is that of infrastructures, light and others. Also, there is no support from the government and its parastatals.
When we started, the government parastatals did not take into cognisance, the difference between imported household furniture and laboratory equipment for treatment. The first time I brought in my equipment, they categorised it as metallic furniture. Yet those were my incubators.
These were some of the things we went through initially but I think it’s getting better now. But they still find it difficult categorising these equipment for fertility treatment as medicals.
How small did you start Nordica, in one room or in a cubicle?
Nupe! Nupe!! I started big from day one because I worked in another hospital, which made me to understand that you probably can’t start a good thing alone, rather you needed to partner others to raise the funds. So, I didn’t start from one room or managing candle or something else.
From day one, I started with everything that is required for good practice. But before then, we needed to look at the gap in Nigerian health sector to see those things that people said were impossible so as to find solution around them.
That was the mindset I have to give these people the kind of service that they can get in any other place in the world. There was no any form of management right from day one.
Recently, cases of male and female infertility are on the rise in Nigeria, what are the causes of this condition?
I don’t know but all over the world, it’s happening. It’s not Nigeria thing. Many people are debating whether the things that cause infertility are what happened when we were born or when we were still in the womb, or inherited or from external environment. What we have seen is that there are many factors responsible for it.
So, it wasn’t as if there is something we are doing wrongly?
No, it’s a worldwide thing. There are many factors responsible, including environment, lifestyles but there is no singular factor one can say causes it.
If there is, it would have been easy to prevent it. It’s multi-factorial. But one thing is certain, the more one lives a healthy life, the more you take away many vices – alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, better for us. Also, the nature of job one does can contribute to male infertility.
Does it have a perfect treatment?
If a man inherited it, can you cure it? Anything that is inherited cannot be cured but could be treated and help to have children.
This technology is making us to bypass the problem, not solving the problem. So, no matter your sperm count, as long as you have sperm in your testicles, we can make you have children.
Can’t stem cell technology cure it?
Well, maybe it might be able to help in that regards. Stem cell, fine you can make sperm anywhere in the laboratory and we might be able to solve the problem at that point.
Where do you get this technology from?
We are Nordica, so that means we are from Demark. Our headquarters is in Denmark.
What has been your most trying case in this practice?
The most interesting case was the oldest mother at the centre, who had her babies at 56. Here in Africa, there are many social and religious factors that affect fertility treatment.
We see people with the mindset that non-conceiving and bringing children up is a myth. We met her, when she was 53 and couldn’t have her treatment because there were some legal issues.
So, she didn’t have her children until she was 56. With one treatment, she had her first set of children. In another case, they said a certain patient was a witch because she was bleeding from some funny parts of the body and we had that to contend with. Some women had fibroid operation and had their wombs damaged.
Now, many couples seeking children would encounter hard-time with their in-laws, what would be your advice to the in-laws, as well as the affected couples?
First of all, to everybody, we should understand that the children come from the Lord. When you face with the problem of infertility, the worst thing you can do is to stay alone, even when you are being persecuted. There is no need for such sober mood. Be happy even when someone wants you moody.
The first thing you need to know is that you are not the only one affected. About one in five couples in Nigeria has infertility problem. So, you are not the only one affected. There is no stigma to it. It’s not because of anything that you have done. It’s a medical condition and therefore, you should seek help.
Those who have succeeded in the IVF treatment, who didn’t see it as their responsibility to let people know what they did, should speak up to encourage others.
Instead of doing this, they go to churches and give all kinds of testimonies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Deacon in Baptist Church but I think church is really the last place one can tell lies or telling wrong stories.
Also, it’s a counter culture that many people in Nigeria don’t read. But I urged that when you have any problem, or challenge, the first thing for you to do is to be knowledgeable about the problem.
I would say that anything that involves emotion, which having children is one of them, should be careful with. As there are real ones, there are also fake ones. If you must invest your time and money, then you need to be sure that you are in the right place and doing the right thing.
The only way to know that is having the right knowledge so that nobody promises you what can’t be delivered. Anybody that is facing any kind of challenge in life, including infertility, should be knowledgeable about the problem.
You must also choose what to read because there are a lot rubbish on the internet. Health is something that we don’t have a choice but must dedicate time to. Not only in infertility.
I’m not saying challenge your doctors but they must be accountable and you must be able to ask them some intelligent questions, in order for you to be carried along.
As I always say, nobody should take any drug that he doesn’t know its name. Gone are the days when that happened. People must be interested in how they want to solve their problems.
Let the doctor explain to you in simple language what he is doing because even when you are doing the best thing, it’s not 100 per cent guaranteed. There is no need wasting your time and money.
You should be knowledgeable enough to make decisions so that you don’t make wrong decisions. Some people make decisions that can never give them babies, yet they said they are getting treated.
For instance, if you buy a new Mercedes Benz and you take it to the beach, and you want to drive by the sea side, it will sink because it’s a tube wheeled car. But if you buy a tokunbo Four-Wheel-Drive, you will get there.
So, it is not how much you have spent. It doesn’t matter if one is new and the other old, it’s by applying the right method or technology.
The same thing goes to IVF. If you are applying the right procedure in the wrong way, you will get wrong result. So, knowledge is the key. That’s what I try to make people understand.
What’s your highpoint in life?
Those are things I don’t think about because I believe I have not reached anywhere. Sometimes, I get disconnected, when people say I have done this and that. I wake up hungry, everyday, saying what can I do to improve our health care system?
Seriously, I have not seen any high point yet, may be soon, I will be able to say, oh yes, I have a high point. Yes, people talk about milestones, yes, we have that.
Source: Top Celebrities Nigeria