This week marks an amazing moment in history – the 40th anniversary of the world’s first test-tube baby, Louise Brown.
Paving the way for women to have the children they thought they would never have, Louise was born on July 25, 1978.
Her birth caused a media sensation when fertility specialists Patrick Steptoe and Bob Edwards became the first to successfully carry out IVF.
Weighing 2.61kg, Louise was delivered by caesarean section, as her mother Lesley was suffering from toxaemia.
Dr Steptoe said at the time: ‘All examinations showed that the baby is quite normal. The mother’s condition after delivery was also excellent.’
As a baby Louise was oblivious to all the fuss, but after learning of her famous beginning, she admitted on her 25th birthday: ‘I don’t feel any more special than anyone else.
‘I just get on with my life [like] normal,’ she said at the time, visibly nervous. ‘Mum and Dad didn’t treat Natalie any different from me.’
Louise was five when her parents told her she was an IVF baby.
‘They had it all on video, so Mum and Dad showed that to me at home. It was just before I went to school.’
Asked whether she would herself undergo IVF treatments, Louise said she would, but in 2006, she had a child of her own and another bub six years later – who were both conceived naturally without IVF.
Today she remains positive about IVF, telling website Inews: ‘I like raising awareness and really enjoy meeting people who have been helped, indirectly, by Patrick and Bob’s work.
‘People said with me that “science can go too far”, but as long as medical advances are helping someone – and are for medical reasons – I completely agree with them.
‘Still, some people don’t agree with it, and they’re entitled to their opinion,’ she added.
Louise says she feels really privileged about being part of the whole experience:
‘It’s amazing to think it all started off with Mum and Dad – Patrick and Bob.
And it’s amazing that everyone’s keeping on their work, and the number of people they’ve helped – and more to come.’
For the full story see this weeks issue of New Idea, on sale now.