An end and a beginning

Thirty-five years ago, in July 1978, Louise Joy Brown was born at Oldham General Hospital. Famously, she was the world’s first person conceived via in vitro fertilisation. Now there are something like 5 million people worldwide who were conceived this way.

Last week, I wrote an obituary for the Lancet of Robert Edwards, who developed the first successful protocol for IVF along with Patrick Steptoe. Researching the obituary I was told time and again  how those who helped bring about this remarkable advance were motivated by compassion for infertile people.

“He had a great desire to help humanity, and a feeling you had to prevent suffering. And even when things were going wrong, he could always laugh about it”, one eminent doctor recalled of Edwards.

I mention this compassion as an introduction to something else I found in my research — a video in the Wellcome Collection of Louise Brown’s birth. The unemotional efficiency of the procedure of the caesarean is  confronting. I have never seen a caesarean performed and watching this made me wonder how different the process is currently.

The video is here on the Wellcome site.

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This entry was published on May 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm. It’s filed under Science journalism, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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