Prof. Sir Robert Edwards, the pioneer of IVF, has died in his sleep after a long illness at the age of 87.
Robert Edwards was knighted in 2011, five decades after he began experimenting with IVF.
IVF is used worldwide and has resulted in more than five million babies.
His work led to the birth of world’s first test-tube baby Louise Brown at Oldham General Hospital in 1978.
Robert Edwards was knighted in 2011, five decades after he began experimenting with IVF
Paying tribute to Prof. Robert Edwards, Louise Brown said he had brought “happiness and joy” to millions of people.
She said: “I have always regarded Robert Edwards as like a grandfather to me.
“His work, along with Patrick Steptoe, has brought happiness and joy to millions of people all over the world by enabling them to have children.
“I am glad that he lived long enough to be recognized with a Nobel prize for his work, and his legacy will live on with all the IVF work being carried out throughout the world.”
The University of Cambridge, where Prof. Robert Edwards was a fellow, said his work “had an immense impact”.
Born in Yorkshire in 1925 into a working-class family, Robert Edwards served in the British army during World War II before returning home to study first agricultural sciences and then animal genetics.
Building on earlier research, which showed that egg cells from rabbits could be fertilized in test tubes when sperm was added, Robert Edwards developed the same technique for humans.
In a laboratory at Cambridge in 1968, Robert Edwards first saw life created outside the womb in the form of a human blastocyst, an embryo that has developed for five to six days after fertilization.
“I’ll never forget the day I looked down the microscope and saw something funny in the cultures,” he once recalled.
“I looked down the microscope and what I saw was a human blastocyst gazing up at me. I thought, <<We’ve done it>>.”
“Bob Edwards is one of our greatest scientists,” said Mike Macnamee, chief executive of Bourn Hall, the IVF clinic founded by Prof. Robert Edwards with his fellow IVF pioneer Patrick Steptoe, a gynaecological surgeon.
Robert Edwards was too frail to pick up his Nobel prize in Stockholm in 2010, leaving that job to his wife Ruth, with whom he had five daughters.
He remained a fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, until his death.
Robert Edwards’ work was motivated by his belief, as he once described it, that “the most important thing in life is having a child.”
A new research presented at a conference of fertility experts claims that 5 million “test tube babies” have now been born around the world.
Delegates hailed it as a “remarkable milestone” for fertility treatments.
The first test tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in the UK in July 1978. Her mother Leslie Brown died last month.
However, delegates at the conference in Turkey warned couples not to use fertility treatment as an “insurance policy” if they delayed parenthood.
The first test tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in the UK in July 1978
The International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ICMART) presented its latest data on children born to infertile parents at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference.
It said official figures up to 2008, plus three years of estimates, put the total number of test tube babies born at five million.
ICMART chairman Dr. David Adamson said: “This technology has been highly successful in treating infertile patients. Millions of families with children have been created, thereby reducing the burden of infertility.
“The technology has improved greatly over the years to increase pregnancy rates.”
About 1.5 million cycles of IVF, and similar techniques, are performed every year, resulting in 350,000 babies, ICMART said.
Stuart Lavery, a consultant gynaecologist and director of IVF at Hammersmith Hospital, said: “IVF is now part of the mainstream, it is no longer something couples are ashamed of.”
However, he cautioned that the great success of assisted reproduction techniques should not lull people into thinking they could wait to have children.
“The subtext is that if people delay childbirth they may view IVF as an insurance policy that they can access at any stage.
“Unfortunately the facts still suggest that IVF success rates in women as they get older are not fantastic.”
Lesley Brown, the woman who gave birth to the world’s first test tube baby, has died aged 64.
Lesley Brown, who lived in Whitchurch, Bristol, UK, made history in July 1978 when her daughter Louise was born at Oldham General Hospital.
She had been trying for a baby with her husband John for nine years before she became the first woman to give birth following IVF treatment.
Lesley Brown died at the Bristol Royal Infirmary on 6 June with her family by her side, it has been announced.
She successfully conceived following pioneering treatment by Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards.
Lesley Brown leaves behind daughters Louise and Natalie, who were both born following IVF treatment, her stepdaughter Sharon and five grandchildren.
Her husband died five years ago.
Lesley Brown, the woman who gave birth to the world's first test tube baby, has died aged 64
A private funeral service was held in Bristol on Wednesday morning.
Louise Brown said: “Mum was a very quiet and private person who ended up in the world spotlight because she wanted a family so much.
“We are all missing her terribly.”
Dr. Patrick Steptoe and Prof. Robert Edwards set up the Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge two years after Louise Brown’s birth. It has now become a leading centre for IVF treatment.
Speaking on behalf of Prof. Robert Edwards and the team at the clinic, chief executive Mike Macamee said: “Lesley was a devoted mum and grandmother and through her bravery and determination many millions of women have been given the chance to become mothers.
“She was a lovely, gentle lady and we will all remember her with deep affection.”
Speaking in 2008, Lesley Brown said she had been so desperate to have a baby that she was willing to put up with anything to give birth.
At the time, she said: “I’m just so grateful that I’m a mum at all because without IVF I never would have been and I wouldn’t have my grandchildren.”
Her blocked fallopian tubes meant getting pregnant naturally was impossible.
In 1976, she heard about new research and was referred to Dr. Patrick Steptoe, after which she agreed to the experimental procedure.
Although other women had been implanted with fertilized eggs, Lesley Brown was the first to achieve a pregnancy which went beyond a few weeks.