The world’s first successful birth from in vitro fertilization (IVF) took place in Oldham 34 years ago today.
Louise Joy Brown was born on 25 July 1978 in Oldham General Hospital by caesarian section, as a result of pioneering work by Professor Robert Edwards and Dr Patrick Steptoe.
Thanks to Edwards and Steptoe, there are now an estimated 5million babies born following IVF, which still causes controversy.
Parents Lesley and John Brown had spent nine unsuccessful years trying to conceive before embarking on this groundbreaking procedure.
The experimental fertility treatment which depended on successful fertilization outside the womb resulted not just in a live birth but in coining the term ‘test-tube’ baby.
Louise maintained a close relationship with the fertility experts, whom she saw as grandfather figures, exchanging birthday cards and visits.
Even when her family moved to Bristol, Louise could not escape her legendary status as a world first.
Speaking to the BBC in 2008, Louise said: “When I was growing up they would ask things like, ‘how do you fit in a test tube?’ and things like that!”
In 1982 the Brown’s give birth to a second daughter, the world’s 40th using IVF.
Louise said: “It’s quite scary to think I’m the first of them all, but it’s also a nice feeling that perhaps if I hadn’t been born then all those people wouldn’t be here, and IVF has helped so many couples.”
Ethical questions remain about the controls in place, in some parts of the world, to safeguard the health of women desperate to conceive.
In 2009 Nadya Suleman gave birth to octuplets after her physician transferred 12 embryos to the Californian, adding to her family of six children.
Single mum Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara died less than three years after giving birth to twins following fertility treatment in 2006 at the age of 67.
Louise herself became a mother in 2006 after conceiving her son Cameron naturally.
Manchester-born Professor Robert Edwards received the 2010 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his work.