The Very First Test Tube Baby – 7/25/1978

History |

It was on this day that the world officially got introduced to test tube babies, as the first one was brought into the world on July 25th, 1978. The baby took the name Louise Joy Brown and was born in Manchester, England at the Oldham and District General Hospital. Conceived by way of vitro fertilization, Louise’s parents were Lesley and Peter Brown, who celebrated the birth near midnight. Louise was birthed by C-section and was born at 5 pounds and 12 ounces. 

The reason this couple was unable to have a child initially was due to Lesley Brown, the wife, having blocked fallopian tubes. For years, the couple had trouble getting pregnant and were struggling from infertility for quite some time. However, that all started to change in the winter of 1977.

In November of 1977, Lesley Brown underwent surgery that at the time was still in its experimental stage, meaning that weren’t really sure if it would work yet. In the procedure, doctors removed one of her eggs from her ovaries in a tough process. They then combined that egg with one of her husband’s sperm in order to successfully make an embryo. A few days later, doctors took the embryo they had created with an egg and sperm, then implanted into Lesley’s uterus.

The two IVF doctors that were working on Lesley were British gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards, another scientist. They had both begun their pioneering into this matter around a decade before they started their experimentation on Lesley. They were highly motivated to make this work and were dedicated to the project fully.

The media grabbed ahold of this experiment and immediately began to give their take on the situation, as they always do. The second they learned about the couple actually being pregnant this way, public scrutiny became a growing problem. At the time of Louise’s birth, the story was making headlines around the world. It even started to raise questions surrounding whether the whole process was even legal – or ethical.

However, that didn’t stop the Browns from having a family and adding on to it. Several years after the success of their first child, the Browns decided to have a second child through the same process. It would end up being another daughter, whom they named Natalie. Natalie would later become the first person born through IVF to have a child of their own. It helped bash the stigma that babies born through IVF wouldn’t be able to get pregnant and have a child themselves. She gave birth in May of 1999. 

Several years later, Louise, who was the original test tube baby, gave birth to her own child. Her baby was also born naturally, this one being a boy named Cameron John Mullinder.

Now-a-days, the procedure isn’t as rare. In fact, it’s a very common procedure that is used countless times every year. It is said that hundreds of thousands of children have been conceived and birthed through this procedure to this day. 

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Autumn Mcleod

Senior Writer

Autumn came to us really wanting to break away from the politics that came with working for major news sites. She leads our positive story writers in creating the best, engaging stories out there. She is an enthusiast of all things from the roaring twenties.