It was a get-together of the world's “first” test-tube babies at a special birthday party organised at Bourn Hall Clinic, Cambridge -— the clinic responsible for the conception of the first test-tube baby, Louise Brown.
Born on July 25, 1978, Brown's birth at Oldham and District General Hospital, Greater Manchester, caused a sensation the world over and was a revolution in fertility treatment. To mark the milestone, other important guest was Alastair MacDonald, the world's first male test-tube baby, who is 29 now,
Brown, who is now a mother of a naturally conceived 18-month-old boy Cameron, told HT that she had grown accustomed to the media interest in her. Married to Wayne Mullinder and living in Bristol, Louise said she had not planned a party to mark the occasion. “I'm not really thinking of it as my 30th birthday.”
On being the first test tube baby, Brown said: “It's quite scary to think that 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.”
Prof Edwards, 82, who helped in the operation, also joined the celebrations and helped Brown cut the cake. “I think the whole thing is incredible,”said Edwards.
Recalling the event, Edward said, “Patrick Steptoe was performing the Caesarean section. Suddenly the baby cried, screamed. We were amazed and delighted. He handed the baby to nurses and to me and we held her in our arms.”
He vividly remembers how Louise's mother had to go into hiding, once the news of the pregnancy got leaked out. “We were concerned that she would lose the baby, the foetus, because the press were chasing Brown all over Bristol. So secretly, Patrick Steptoe hid the mother in his car and drove her to his mother's house in Lincoln - the press didn't know where she was,” said Edward.
Louise's mother said that in Oldham hospital reporters tried a variety of methods to sneak into her room -- from a bomb hoax to posing as cleaners. Brown went on to have another daughter by IVF and is delighted that Steptoe and Edwards helped her. At present, there are three million IVF babies the world over because of the technology.