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Obituary: Fidelis Akagbosu

Fertility specialist Dr Fidelis Akagbosu passed away on July 26th, 2019 at the age of 64. 

Fidelis was a Nigerian who was passionate about helping people with infertility to conceive. He helped to establish the first IVF clinic (the Premier Medical Specialist Hospital) in Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, in 1996.  The birth of the first IVF baby in this area of Nigeria followed in 1998.  The Premier Medical Specialist Hospital went on to become the first clinic in Nigeria to introduce more advanced fertility techniques such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to treat male infertility and embryo cryopreservation, leading to countless healthy babies being born.

Fidelis was born on April 24th, 1955 in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. He received his medical degree from Obafemi Awolowo University (University of Ife) in 1979.  While in residency at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Fidelis married Dr Lilian Akagbosu (née Acholonu) in 1987. In 1990, they relocated to the UK and Fidelis passed his MRCOG exams in 1992.

To further his knowledge of infertility, Fidelis attained a Master’s degree in Assisted Reproduction Technology from the University of Nottingham in 1994. As an IVF expert, Fidelis then worked at the fertility clinic in the Fazakerley District General Hospital in Merseyside before moving to work with the team that pioneered IVF, at the Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridgeshire. It was during his time at Bourn Hall that he made plans to establish an IVF clinic in his homeland. 

The setting up of IVF in Nigeria presented numerous challenges.  However, working alongside Dr Ibrahim Wada and Dr Bryan Woodward, Fidelis performed the first IVF run of patients in June 1997, with three of the nine patients becoming pregnant, and the first IVF baby, Hannutu, being born on 11th February 1998.  

Fidelis went on to help fellow fertility specialists to set up IVF clinics in Nigeria, most notably the Roding Medical Centre and George’s Memorial Medical Centre in Lagos State. He finally relocated to the USA where he worked in New York and Philadelphia. His last position was as an Attending Physician and Sub-Chief at the Kaiser Center for Reproductive Health in Fremont, California.

Fidelis was a prominent member of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in the USA, the RCOG in the UK and the Association for Fertility and Reproductive Health (AFRH) in Nigeria.  A tribute was held for Fidelis at this year’s annual conference of the AFRH, where the president acknowledged: “Fidelis selflessly provided support for the establishment of a number of IVF centres in Nigeria and was a leading member of the team that recorded our early success.  The history of IVF would not be complete without him”.

Fidelis was a devoted father to his two children, and is survived by his daughter Dr Cynthia Akagbosu, his son Mr. Emmanuel Akagbosu, and his son-in-law Mr. Nathan Swire. Fidelis was the eleventh child of thirteen, of which he is survived by five: Sir Casimir Akagbosu, Mr. Anthony Akagbosu, Chief Engineer Stephen Akagbosu, Mrs. Maria Igbinedion, and Mr. John Akagbosu. He is pre-deceased by Dr. Lilian Akagbosu, his parents, and his siblings: Mr. Joseph Akagbosu, Mr. Thomas Akagbosu, Miss Cecelia Akagbosu, Mr. Peter Akagbosu, Mr. Paul Akagbosu, Mrs. Christiana Iruobe, and Miss Josephine Akagbosu.