NEWSPAPERS, JOURNALS, ONLINE REPORTS: try to find out as much as you can, about these clinics and the medical personnel behind them. Where you find it difficult to get the necessary information, be wary.
your G.P may recommend a particular clinic for the more advanced fertility treatment that you need, usually because he has confidence in your chances there.
*PATIENT MEDIA TESTIMONIALS: Clinics that successfully treat very special fertility cases as sometimes reported in the media, are often worth consideration. Also embedded in these media reported success stories is often a line of action you can copy.
Some other clinics record quiet successes that are not reported (many Nigerians still hide the fact that they conceived through IVF : the case of the parents of Eghosa, Nigeria’s very first test tube baby born in 1989, is one) so you may still need ‘an ear to the ground’ or the word of mouth grapevine in order to make a choice.
*WORD-OF-MOUTH: some names/clinics are constantly mentioned by friends, co-workers, etc. as being good and these claims can be verified by some patients who are happy and not too shy to recommend the clinic where they had their success. (Once again, it’s good to stay close to Nigerian online fertility forums). You can often make contact through Private Messages to enquire about their experiences at these clinics if they don’t want to come out publicly. For the kind of financial and emotional investment that you will be putting into this treatment, it is always good to go the extra mile to get all the information you can possibly get before going into it.
Nigerian IVF clinics are mainly located in Lagos and Abuja, however there are also good clinics in places like Warri and Port Harcourt and some other towns and cities across the nation so you may have to travel out of town and will need to factor in things like accommodation. Other places where the fertility clinics are located include Enugu, Ilorin, Ilesha, Ibadan, Oshogbo, etc., but hardly any in the Northern states as at present.
*COST: (full paying or promo - there are pros & cons for both packages).Price differentials between clinics can sometime vary quite widely and you can occasionally get promotional packages but these may not include services like freezing.
Government hospital IVF Units while much cheaper than the private ones, are not suitable for everyone – for instance, some don’t offer Donor Egg treatment; also, their treatment plans and schedules are usually not too flexible.
whether consistent, increasing or dropping; this may be difficult to ascertain in Nigeria as there is no official or government fertility body that verifies this but regular visits to some online fertility forums can be quite revealing.
*EMPATHIC DOCTORS: do the clinic doctor(s) have the reputation of being usually available, listening, intimidating or distant?
Sometimes the quality of care or services that the clinic will give to you can be discerned from the very first consultation or even first impressions upon entering the clinic. While ‘the cover may not always make the book’(e.g. the clinic having very simple/basic or elegant buildings/furnishing), one’s gut instincts can sometimes indicate whether or not to go ahead with treatment there. Later events often corroborate these instincts such that for instance even where the first try fails, the patient does not mind repeating treatment in the same clinic because they know that they are in the right place.
*PROFESSIONAL STAFF: the attitude of the clinic’s staff (not only advertised qualifications) should also be considered as they play an important role in giving you emotional support while on the journey. Do they have the reputation of always being courteous and ready to assist even while under pressure?. Time and again, there are complaints about particular clinics, of the change in staff attitude and friendliness once treatment fails without their realising that courteously treated patients (even after treatment failures), are actually the best publicists of any clinic. To buttress this, some former patients have said in a popular online forum concerning their former clinics that ‘even though they personally did not have successful outcomes, they would not hesitate to recommend them to others because of the professional way in which they were treated!’
*HONEST DISCLOSURE OF CHANCES:
some patients require extended time to prepare for the cycle or need some pre-treatment like fibroid removal which may require even more time in order for the proposed IVF treatment to have the best chances of success A good clinic will lay out all necessary info even if it means the patient cannot commence treatment immediately or at all at that particular clinic.
*STATE-OF-THE-ART FACILITIES/RANGE OF SERVICES:
the would-be patient can usually be guided by the kind of services (e.g Blastocyst Transfer, PGD, Assisted Hatching, freezing methods, etc) offered by the clinic which is usually indicative of the kind of equipment it has.
*RELIABILITY: At good clinics, there is always a competent doctor available and Treatment Plans are always followed through. No patient is ever left hanging because the treating doctor is unexpectedly absent. There have been instances at one clinic where scheduled IVF treatment had to be converted to IUI because the doctor was away at the time and the available junior doctors did not have the requisite training/competence.
*ETHICAL PRACTICES: consider clinics where patients are honestly and fairly treated: a lady recently revealed that without any egg collection from her or discussion about any egg donor, she was asked to come for embryo transfer at a particular clinic! Another was told that her donor produced only one single egg only for her to discover that there were actually other recipients who all each paid the same amount.
In this regard, it’s important to find out about the experiences of others at their clinics; you can usually be assured of a fair deal by choosing a clinic with a reputation to maintain; at such clinics for instance, except where sharing has previously been agreed upon, all collected donor eggs are used for the recipient.
The decent, professional clinic also does not apply pressure about whether to follow a particular line of treatment.
One clinic, without putting forward the PESA/TESE options, or adequate counselling, has the reputation of practically forcing the use of donor sperm upon its patients once the male partner has nil or low count and some desperate couples succumb; some women even agree to such insemination without the knowledge of their spouses which may lead to future complications.