This was the first publicly held event organised by the Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation (IIF) in making the hopes of these Parents-in-Waiting come alive. The tension was palpable in the Agip Recital Hall of the Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos venue and for the more than 50 couples, this was a defining moment in their journey to parenthood.
For this year, about 381 applications were received by the foundation out of which 100 were screened. Fifty passed the scrutiny of the medical team, but the foundation could only afford to sponsor 10, something that leaves Ibidunni Ituah-Ighodalo, the compassionate woman behind this great cause, heartbroken. At least over N1.3 million is needed to sponsor IVF treatment and other methods of assisted reproductive procedures for one couple.
In 2016 when the foundation kicked off, it partnered with certified fertility clinics in Nigeria to provide fertility services to 28 couples. Success stories from the first batch include 15 successful treatments, five confirmed pregnancies and one successful delivery. Bodunrin and Lola Oye, one of the beneficiaries of her grant recently welcomed a set of twins, the first by the foundation!
As Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo started to read out the names randomly, sighs of relief and despair filled the hall. Not a few wiped streams of tears rolling down their face. To support the good cause, Pastor Ashimolowo announced that he would sponsor an additional two couples. The number was raised to 12. Shouts of joy filled the hall as Tonye Cole of Sahara Group offered to finance treatment for two other couples. Pastor Ashimolowo was moved again to add another couple, bringing the eventual number of couples who were given access to the IIF grant to fifteen (15) on the day.
IIF, the brainchild of Ibidunni Ighodalo, a former beauty queen and wife of accountant and founder of Trinity House, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, was conceived to raise awareness on issues pertaining to infertility and to provide grants for couples who require fertility treatments including In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). The foundation partners with highly reputable fertility clinics in Nigeria and with other donors to provide couples with the financial and material support they require during the treatments. IIF also provides the necessary psychological and spiritual support required to deal with the pressures couples face along their journey to conception and eventual parenthood.
The day’s event which was scheduled to begin at 10 am had guests waiting outside the venue from as early as 9 am, for the doors to be opened. The event was excellently planned and organized attesting to Ibidunni’s famed skill as an event planner. Clinix, a partner of the event was on hand to carry out medical tests including screenings for HIV and Cervical Cancer at the venue.
Scheduled as part of the conference was a lecture on infertility by Margaret Irele of Roding Reproductive Centre. Her colleague Femi Olaifa elaborated on the laboratory processes of IVF and IUI, and Mary-Jane Igori from the same organisation, gave a talk on donor and surrogacy. Oluwatoyin Ikotun, Head of Adoption and Fostering, Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development shed light on adoption services in the state.
An interactive panel session after the talks helped debunk myths like sperm leakage and infertility caused by abortions as attendees learnt that several abortions can only result in a damaged cervix but not infertility. For those who were interested in surrogacy, a prerequisite of the clinic is that the surrogate must be young, beautiful, have a high IQ and must have given birth through the vagina. They however advised that surrogates should not donate their eggs more than three times. The cost of contracting a surrogate, they said, could be as high as N3 million.
The audience was entertained by a series of monologues presented by a seven-member cast that dramatised the trauma faced by couples suffering from infertility. The theatre production did well to spread the word on infertility with their compelling message.
The packed-out hall held steady for the day long event which went down as one of the most impactful and rewarding event of its kind. Pastor Ituah drew the curtain on this inaugural Parent-in-Waiting Conference with a befitting word of prayer.
See photos below.