Dr. Joshua Noreh: The Iconic Medic Behind Kenya’s First Test Tube Babies

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Kenya’s first ‘test tube’ babies are now  sixteen years old. They are a set of female twins who were delivered through a caeserian section on 8th May, 2006.

One of the babies weighed 3.2 kg while its sibling tipped the scale at 2.5kg. The historic delivery happened at Avenue Hospital in Parklands and offered a ray of hope for Kenyans battling with infertility.

This time round, politicians were substituted for the two babies on the cover page of the Daily Nation. The precious babies were draped in pink and sky blue clothing. Their arms bore wrist identification tags. The headline read: Here at last, Kenya’s first test tube babies. 

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The parents were elated as they had struggled with getting a baby for over a decade. Dr. Joshua Noreh, an obstetrician and gynaecologist got all the accolades for this defining moment.

As quoted by BBC, the father to the twins told Dr Noreh: ” I am ready to give you anything you ask for.”

The mother was equally emotional. She told the media: “This is the moment I have always waited for. For the first time in my life, I feel a great sense of relief and hope.”

But who is Dr. Joshua Noreh? WoK takes a look at his decorated career in medicine.

Background

The 62 year old practices at the Nairobi IVF Centre. He was orphaned at a tender age of 5. The iconic medic studied at Nyang’ori Boys High School before pursuing an undergraduate degree at the University of Nairobi and graduated in 1986.

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He then undertook a postgraduate in obstetrics and gynaecology from the same institution in 1997. Noreh studied clinical embryology at the University of Leeds (2004) and also pursued Assisted Reproductive Technology at ULM University in Germany.

Experience in In vitro Fertilisation 

Following the successful in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in 2006, Dr. Noreh has been at his elements performing the procedure. He conducts over 400 IVFs each year.

Noreh explains that after retrieval of eggs from the ovary, they are subjected to hormonal treatment which helps in their growth. The next process is fusion of the egg with a sperm which takes place in the laboratory.

The embryo is then introduced into the womb of the woman. However, this is the most difficult process as there are high chances of failed attachment.

For a couple on whom we have done the IVF, their chances of conceiving is about 40 per cent. If we treat 100 women and transferred 100 embryos, 60 will not get pregnant,” he told the Star.

Cost of IVF in Kenya 

There are only 11 IVFs centres in Kenya. Eldoret and Mombasa have one centre each while the rest are in Nairobi. The cost of an IVF cycle ranges from Ksh 500k to Ksh 800k. The procedure is becoming more common as statistics indicate that infertility rates are on the rise in Kenya. Among the factors that lead to infertility are tubal blockage, low sperm quality, post abortal sepsis, fibroids, endometriosis and various drugs.

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