BEARING NIGERIA’S 1ST HI-TECH BABY: MRS PAT KUPCHI

Please, let it be known that my husband and I did not set out to breast the tape as the winners of Nigeria’s In Vitro Fertilisation, IVF marathon race! Nature set the tune and God directed the affair. I remember being invited from my Kaduna base to come and meet the then Science and Technology Minister, Brigadier General Sam Momah (rtd), who led a homage-paying team of the Federal Government of Nigeria Delegates to Dr. Wada and the management of Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital. It was good to give credit to whom credit was due. When itcomes to IVF breakthrough story in the country, Dr. Ibrahim Wada’s effort is number one. The birth of Baby Hannatu attests to this fact.  Gen. Momah (rtd) met my daughter, saw Hannatu live in flesh. Her birth was adequately documented and proven. So the FGN authenticated it as the first IVF birth in Nigeria.  The Minister was very happy to meet us at the official presentation of Baby Hannatu to the Government.

Up till now, Baby Hannatu whom I fondly call Sweetheart has remained a normal child growinggracefully into her teens. She is a normal child in all ramifications. Very beautiful and brilliant; she has no serious ailment apart from little attacks of malaria which is commonplace in tropical climes. At eleven years of age on the eleventh of February 2009, the College girl is the dream of any parent. She is in Junior Secondary School Form One.

Giving birth to a hi-tech baby has changed the course of my life. Nowadays, many child-challenged families see me as the Face of Hope. Thus I found myself in this natural setting to counsel and motivate other women in my hitherto situation. Everybody thinks that if I am thisbold enough, to come out and admit that my child was technology assisted; that I might as well spearhead the campaign to help other people who are challenged but too shy to face it to the logical conclusion. I still do not understand why a lot people who had IVF procreation keep the secret to themselves, instead of praising God aloud and appreciating the ‘wonder doctor’ that the Almighty has used to give them a second chance.

My new-found position of a flag-bearer or pioneer hence informed the establishment of theBaby Hannatu Foundation, BHF whose motto is: No Family Deserves to be Childless! The Charity advises couples and the generality of society on the root causes of infertility and its probable panacea. BHF is the brainchild of Dr. Wada’s NISA Premier Hospital International/Nordica Fertility Centre; in conjunction with my husband and me, plus other trustees. BHF advocates the Second Chance possibility. Like Dr. Wada was always fond of saying: ‘I don’t give life but I aid God’s effort.’  There is no crime in trying, the sage says.

As far as I am concerned, faith and science are all parts and parcels of God’s creation. If a fusion of Science and Religion deliver a good result to you, so be it. I think nothing is wrong inseeking medical attention and scientific explanation to matters of nature while keeping our faith intact.

On our part at BHF, no stones shall be left unturned. Apart from the noble drive to fundraise for subsidized IVF treatment for 1000 poor infertile couples nation-wide to be selected via the774 Local Government Areas; we are also pushing for an end to the agony of Sickle Cell Anaemia, through improved IVF researches. We hope to treat and at least help support one thousand couples per annum in Nigeria. Currently, Dr. Wada’s NISA Hospital has delivered well over a thousand IVF babies. These are additional human capital assets to a developing nation.

There is no gain saying that IVF treatment is a very expensive medical venture. What we paid N150, 000 for twelve years ago, now costs between N800, 000 to N1million. Even at that, many people buy costlier vain products such as cars and jewelleries. But the very poor also deserve to be happy too. Government, through adequate legislation, should provide subsidized treatment to infertile couples – same way that HIV/AIDS victims are supported. Enlightenment campaigns should also be mounted to educate the masses as to the bane of infertility and the scourge of stigmatization attached to it.
Well to do compatriots should also practice the love-thy neighbours injunctions of the Holy Scriptures, by giving to the needy via supporting genuine charities on childlessness such as the Baby Hannatu Foundation.

I will also recommend this book: Dr Ibrahim Wada, A Second Chance be purchased and read by our leaders, law makers, religious clerics and all and sundry – young and old – to institutionalize the importance of infertility in our society and the need to stem its tide. Besides,part of the proceeds from the book would be going to BHF and its task of combating infertility and Sickle Cell Anaemia. Let all hands be on the deck of social engineering.

I know from past experience, that a childless woman or couple is an incomplete entity. After all, God has directed us all to ‘Go you and multiply.’ It is a natural instinct to want to procreate. When this does not happen naturally, dire consequences rear their ugly heads. These include outright divorce, infidelity, stigmatization, name-calling and so on!

I hasten to advise those who are looking up to God for the blessings of the womb, not to tuck in their heads in shame but be outgoing and positive thinking. They should always rejoice with other people who have babies. Heaven, they say, helps those who plans and prays. In addition to that, they should seek correct and proper medical attention.

Finally, while giving glory to God Almighty for hearing my prayers, it is an understatement that I would forever be indebted to Dr. Ibrahim Wada, his team of medics and, most of all, his angelic wife, Hajia Rabi. They all tolerated my mannerisms and took adequate care of me, as if I was one of their own. May the Lord bless them a thousand fold. Dr Wada is an angel to this generation, but I am careful not to elevate him beyond human level.

My Pastor, Bishop Fred Addo, belongs to the realm of excellence. But for God’s notice, I would have deified him. Our God is a jealous one and no man needs be equated to Him. I pray for all those who stood by me throughout my travails. What could I have done without my ‘Mr. Right’husband? He is a rare breed, a lover and friend in a trillion! I don’t know if his type still exist anywhere?
In his exceptional way, he insulated me from the pressure that he was receiving from different angles. His situation is better imagined, being married to a woman for 13 years without an issue – and not considering taking another wife! It is strange in an African setting. I commend his courage, which in turn boosted my morale and perseverance level. My darling husband, Architect Hosea Kupchi, is every woman’s dreamed partner – faithful, religious, loving, caring, supportive and very understanding. He is always my Rock of Gibraltar. A great father, he is too.

NO REGRETS EVER

Twelve years after taking IVF treatment to have a baby, I have been full of joy and not for once can I talk of any regrets. My health has been okay, my home intact, my social status amidst mothers restored, my faith in God rekindled, my usefulness to humanity increased and my power of value re-defined and re-channelled.

On Baby Hannatu’s part, the importance of her unique birth is yet to fully register to her innocent mind; although we keep reminding her not to misbehave in whatever she does as the world’s eyes are on her as a special child. And she’s yet to disappoint the family. In fact, she‘s curious to become a first woman to do something – may be the first female Central BankGovernor or something else. ‘I want to be the first somewhere mum,’ she promises. I believe she’s going to be a blessing to her generation – for she’s kind hearted, sociable, caring, ever so loving and intelligent. We ensure that her celebrity status does not affect her growth. So she’s being brought up to be simple, humble and steadfast.

Our Miss Universe, Hannatu harnesses outstanding attributes and the pretty girl is everybody’s delight. Everywhere she goes, she’s real fun to be with. She’s also toying with the idea of becoming a nurse or doctor, in order to be close to her ‘Scientific dad’ Dr. Ibrahim Wada whom she sees as a helper of the needy.

Finally, I will want all and sundry to echo the motto of Baby Hannatu Foundation that: No Family Deserves to be CHILDLESS!

BEING THE TEXT OF A SPEECH DELIVERED BY BARRISTER PATRICIA KUPCHI, MOTHER OF BABY HANNATU, NIGERIA’S FIRST IVF (TEST TUBE) CHILD, AT THE PRESS CONFERENCE KICKING-OFF THE BABY HANNATU FOUNDATION WEEK, HELD AT THE NOLLYWOOD LOUNGE, NANET SUITES, ABUJA, MONDAY 23RD FEBRUARY 2009.