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Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 08:03 GMT 09:03 UK
DR Congo delivers first test tube baby
Congolese medical team
Few African countries have carried out IVF successfully

A woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo has given birth to the country's first test-tube baby.


For this population, these are things which come from magic or black magic - the people don't understand

Dr Antoine Mosikwa
Baby Emmanuel is like all other healthy Congolese babies - but with one difference - he is the first to be born in the DR Congo as a result of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment.

DR Congo is one of only a few sub-Saharan African countries to carry out successfully IVF treatment for a couple with fertility problems.

The IVF procedure involves extracting an egg from a woman, fertilising it with sperm in a laboratory, and then planting the resulting embryo in the woman's womb.

Contended customer

Maternity wards in the DR Congo are not always the happiest of places.

Giving birth in the country is extremely dangerous. The country has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world.

But there is a very happy new mother in the Kinshasa hospital where the IVF procedure was carried out.

"I've had eight years of marriage without having a baby, but now I've got my baby Emmanuel. I'm happy," said the baby's mother.

"He's perfect. He's beautiful. I'm really happy with him - everyone is happy with him."

Mysterious ways

But she didn't want to give her name.

The parents do not want other people to know that Emmanuel is a test-tube baby.

She said it was difficult to explain why but, "the mentality of the Congolese - it will be difficult to explain to people".

Dr Antoine Mosikwa, who runs the Medicis clinic in central Kinshasa, where Emmanuel was born seven weeks ago, agrees.

"I've met a lot of resistance, because its a new ethical issue to deal with here. Our people haven't yet understood fully the mechanisms of natural fertilisation.

"In general have a well educated population, the level of education is still very weak, and for this population these are things which come from magic or black magic.

"The people don't understand how we've been able to achieve this."

Neither the doctor nor mother would say how long it took, nor how much money it cost to have baby Emmanuel.

But according to his mother it was more than that.

"Patience, with faith. And praying to God Almighty. That was all."

See also:

31 Mar 99 | Medical notes
08 Jul 02 | Health
18 Jun 02 | Business
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