Mother of first IVF baby dies at 64
Cait McDonagh30 June 2012
Lesley Brown, the first woman to give birth after undergoing IVF treatment, has died aged 64. She made history when her daughter Louise was born in 1978 at Oldham General Hospital.
Her daughter said that she was a very private person 'who ended up in the world spotlight because she wanted a family so much'. Lesley died at the Bristol Royal Infirmary on 6 June after a short illness.
Brown was unable to conceive naturally due to her having blocked fallopian tubes. She received IVF treatment under the supervision of Professor Robert Edwards and Dr Patrick Steptoe. Although other women had already been implanted with fertilised eggs, Louise was the first child to be born after such treatment.
At the time IVF was a controversial procedure, drawing criticism from religious organisations but also some within the scientific community. An estimated four million women worldwide have now given birth thanks to the technique. Professor Edwards and Dr Steptoe founded the Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge two years after Lesley gave birth, and it is now a leading centre for IVF treatment. Professor Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2010.
Brown had been trying for a family for nine years before trying IVF. Lord Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College London said he remembered Lesley as full of 'bravery and moral courage'.
Three years ago Brown said that she was so desperate to have a baby that she was willing to do anything to give birth. 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'.
After another round of IVF, Brown gave birth to a second daughter - Natalie. She leaves five grandchildren, as well as a step-daughter. Louise Brown, who gave birth to her son Cameron five years ago, said: 'We are all missing her terribly'.