Little Bits of History

Oh Joy! Louise

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 25, 2010

Louise Brown's birth announcement

July 25, 1978: Louise Joy Brown is born at 11:47 PM, the world’s first “test tube” baby. She was born via Cesarean section in Oldham, England weighing in at 5 pounds, 12 ounces. Her parents had been trying to conceive for nine years without result. It was found that her mother had blocked Fallopian tubes thereby preventing the ovum or egg to descend naturally and be fertilized in the normal fashion. Drs. Edwards and Steptoe had been experimenting with fertilization outside the body.

The two doctors harvested an egg from Mrs. Lesley Brown and added Mr. John Brown’s semen in a special culture media for 18 hours. The sperm fertilized the egg and the resulting zygote was allowed to grow in a specialized growth medium and then was implanted into Mrs. Brown’s uterus as an embryo. This process is called in vitro fertilization [IVF].

By the time Louise was 21 in 1999, over 300,000 test tube babies had been born. Even in the 21st century, the success rate for a live birth following an IVF cycle is around 20-30% with some clinics claiming as high as a 50% success rate. There are a variety of ethical questions still not completely resolved. One issue is the creation of “designer” babies. Post-menopausal pregnancies are no longer impossible. There have been objections from major religions, as well.

There are many factors that contribute to the success or failure of IVF: timing for harvesting the eggs, quality of the semen, fertilization may or may not occur, the resulting zygote’s progress, and proper implantation of the resulting embryo. All these were especially true in 1977 when Lesley Brown attempted IVF. In fact, no child had been so conceived. Louise was such a success, however, that the Browns also had Natalie through IVF. Louise is married now  to Wesley Mullinder and their son, conceived the old fashioned way, was born on December 20, 2006.

“Bringing a child into the world is the greatest act of hope there is.” – Louise Hart

“The hand the rocks the cradle / Is the hand that rules the world.” – William Ross Wallace

“Every baby born into the world is a finer one than the last one.” – Charles Dickens

“Babies are such a nice way to start people.” – Don Harold

Also on this day, in 1871 Seth Wheeler patents perforated toilet paper.
Bonus Link: In 1825, TASS
is established.

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