The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pioneers savour 25 yrs of fertility

Bourn (England), July 26 (Reuters): In a scene once unimaginable, 1,000 test tube children met today to celebrate the 25th birthday of the world’s first IVF baby and the anniversary of the revolutionary fertility treatment.

Since Louise Brown was born on July 25, 1978, more than a million babies worldwide have been conceived through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). One thousand balloons were released into the sky over the Bourn Hall Clinic in rural eastern England as IVF children and their parents sang Happy Birthday, chatted or danced on the sprawling lawns. Professor Bob Edwards, who pioneered the technique, described the day as a celebration of success.

“We had concepts we thought would work and they did,” he told a press conference, flanked by Brown and Alastair MacDonald, the first male IVF baby. “To be in the company of these two people is quite fantastic,” added Edwards, 77, beaming. Brown, who lives in Bristol in southwestern England and is engaged to be married, said it was good to see old friends again — referring to other IVF children present and the doctors she has known all her life.

But despite the celebrations to mark her birth, which has been described as one of the great medical and scientific stories of the 20th century, she said she didn’t feel special. But when asked if she would consider IVF if it was necessary for her to have children she responded with an emphatic,“Yes.” The celebrations at the Bourn Hall Clinic, where Edwards and his partner Patrick Steptoe perfected the technique, were a far cry from the early days of IVF.

Removing eggs from women and fertilising them with sperm in test tubes was considered a radical procedure in the 1970s. Edwards and Steptoe, who died in 1988, were criticised for what they were trying to achieve and were accused of playing God.

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