Dr Abayomi Ajayi is one of Nigeria’s Fertility experts in the country. 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 with BOLA AKINBOADE, plus Nordica success story.
How was growing up like for you?
Growing up was good, not too good. My name is Abayomi, so it means a lot in Yoruba land. I was a very precious child. I am the first child, therefore I grew up sheltered for the first part of my life, and then after a while, I had to face life because I lost my parent very early in life. So it was a different face, not in terms of money, and that is why money to me is always a secondary thing, but in emotion. When you loose your parents, you grow up very fast. No matter what anybody gives you, its not the same, no matter the money, no matter the comfort, there is something that is missing. That was how I grew up; I grew up very early in my life.
You mentioned that your name meant a lot, what is the circumstances surrounding your birth?
The story is that my parent had 2 children before me, and they died very early.
So 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.
What stage are we now, what is the latest discovery in terms of infertility treatment since you have been experimenting with a lot
It’s not a discovery, but we just introduced equipment. What we have tried in Nordica is to give Nigerians a benefit of having a kind of service that they will have in the first world countries in Nigeria. And that we have been helped also by partnership with Nordica as you know it’s based in Denmark. By now, we are actually doing something on our own because any equipment that is relevant to need of our people, we try to bring to Nigeria, no matter the cost, no matter the training. That is what we adopt. We are the only clinic in West Africa; I don’t even want to say in Africa, because in South Africa, this equipment does not exist. We have Intracytoplasmic Morphologically-Selected Sperm Injection (IMSI), Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) .You know ICSI was the one that was the one that was the ultimate before, but now we have IMSI. What this does is that, it’s been shown to give better results in male fertility, but it’s not for everybody. It’s for those who have very bad sperm. And we have been getting result from there. It’s like doubling pregnancy rate in men who has very bad sperm count. That is the latest thing we just did.
Nordica has grown beyond one branch, as you now have branches everywhere. How do you manage the other outlets?
The first thing is that and part of God’s blessing is that, when you are nice to people, people will be nice to you. I have been blessed with fantastic people working with me, so its easier for me not to be there and they continue working as if am there. That is one thing that is working for us, so it’s not so difficult to have other centers. Despite the fact that training for IVF in Nigeria is not taught in any university for now, we still have to have the training abroad. But we had so many good people working with us and we just pray that we will be able to open more clinics.
You have been able to put smiles on the faces of many Fertility challenged couples, so how do you feel when they come back with positive results and testimonies?
Its really very humbling you know, sometimes, I still don’t believe it; I think it’s a dream, except that some of them touch. One day, a woman you just got pregnant said Doctor, I just want to lift you, I said, don’t break your back , how can you lift me, I’m like four times bigger than you(Laughs). And that is the kind of relation that you get. But you know what, making people happy is the best emotion anybody can experience. For me, when someone is genuinely happy, it makes my day. That joy is something that makes me feel like I’m doing something.