It's the 30th birthday of the world's first baby conceived by in vitro fertilization, Louise Brown, born in Oldham, England (1978).
Her parents had been trying to conceive for nine years. A doctor told Lesley Brown, the future mother of Louise, that she had a blocked fallopian tube and referred her to Dr. Patrick Steptoe, who had been conducting research on fertilization for many years. The Browns decided that they would have Dr. Steptoe harvest an egg from Lesley's ovary, which would then be fertilized with her husband's sperm in a laboratory. Dr. Edwards would perform this fertilization in vitro (from Latin, literally "in glass" — coined in reference to the test tube in which experiments were performed). A few days later, Dr. Steptoe would transfer the newly formed embryo back into the uterus of Lesley Brown.
The research leading up to successful human in vitro fertilization spanned many decades. In the late 1800s, a research doctor had extracted embryos from an Angora rabbit and placed them in the uterus of an already pregnant Belgian rabbit. The litter this pregnant Belgian rabbit produced consisted of four Belgians and two Angoras. Through this, the doctor proved that it was possible to take embryos at a certain early stage and put them into a gestational carrier — in other words, a biological surrogate mother — and that these transplanted embryos would develop normally.
Scientists began to study eggs and embryos widely in the laboratory. It took researchers two years to figure out correctly the timing of human egg maturation.
In 1959, Dr. M.C. Chang, a reproductive biologist, performed an in vitro fertilization that resulted in the first successful live birth. He took eggs from a black rabbit, fertilized them in the lab with sperm from another black rabbit, and transferred the resulting embryos to a white rabbit, which gave birth to a litter of young black rabbits. His experiment formed the basis for the first successful human in vitro fertilization.
The procedure done by Dr. Steptoe and Dr. Edwards was successful. Louise Brown was delivered on this day in 1978 at 11:47 p.m. by Caesarean section. She weighed 5 pounds 12 ounces. When she was four years old, her parents told her about the manner of her conception and showed her the famous video of her birth.
She has a younger sister, also conceived by IVF. In December of 2006, Louise Brown gave birth to a son, conceived without any fertility treatment. For many years she earned a living taking care of children at a nursery. Today, she is a postal worker near Bristol, a job that leads to puns about "deliveries," according to sources. Today, there are over a million children that have been conceived by in vitro fertilization, and the birth rate of IVF conceptions is now near 1 percent.
Thank you Drs. Chang and Steptoe for leading the way, and to our IVF doctors at DVIF&G for making our baby dreams possible!!!!!