IT’S 40 YEARS SI
NOT many people know of or care about the day they were conceived. But for Louise Brown, the world’s first “test tube baby”, today’s date signals the medical breakthrough that gave her life.
On November 10, 1977, embryologist Jean Purdy watched as an embryo in a petri dish divided into eight cells.
The cells were implanted into Lesley Brown and, nine months later, she gave birth to a child she had desperately wanted for more than nine years.
Forty years on, the first baby born by in vitro fertilisation has called for those who undergo the latest cutting-edge fertility treatments to be shielded from the shocking abuse her family received.
Her parents were flooded with hate mail by people suspicious of the pioneering technique. Even today, she is regularly targeted by internet trolls.
Louise, who lives in Bristol and works as a clerk at a freight firm, revealed: “People put cruel and ill-informed comments on the internet just about whenever there is a story about me. I just ignore it.”
Following advancements in mitochondrial replacement therapy – or three-parent babies – she has spoken of her wish that other families will not receive the cruel treatment her own experienced. Asked whether she thought families who use the technique will get similar abuse, she replied: “I hope they don’t.”
Earlier this year doctors at the Newcastle Fertility at Life clinic were awarded the first official licence to create a baby with three genetic parents. It follows the birth last year of the world’s first threeparent baby, Abrahim Hassan.
Scientists in Mexico used a tiny amount of mitochondrial DNA from a female donor to prevent him inheriting a fatal nervous system disorder.
Louise has hit back at those opposed to fertility treatments, saying it is no different to solving other medical issues.
She said: “Most people with fertility issues have a medical problem and if medical science can overcome it I don’t see that being any different to trying to solve any other medical problem.”
In a rare interview ahead of the landmark 40th anniversary of her conception, the 39-year-old mother of two admitted she has struggled to know how to commemorate the occasion.
She told the Mirror: “For me it has been a particularly strange time as those cells that divided in a petri dish at a cottage hospital near Oldham on November 10, 1977 became me! I shall be working as usual. I don’t think people celebrate the anniversary of their conception, do they?”
At birth, Louise was subjected to more than 60 tests and the world’s media camped outside Oldham General hospital, Lancs, where she was delivered by caesarean section weighing 5lb 12oz.
In 1978, Pope John Paul I spoke out but refused to condemn Louise’s parents, Lesley and John.
Since then, more the six million children have been born via IVF. But with one round costing the NHS l Jus grou thre refus
PIONEERS Bob Edwards & Patrick Steptoe YELL-O Louise makes herself known to world
BOND Treat pione Edwa her w in 20