Robert Winston pays tribute to mother of first IVF baby

Fertility expert hails bravery of first women to undergo IVF treatment

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Following the sad news of the death of Lesley Brown, the first woman to give birth to a baby after IVF treatment, Lord Robert Winston has paid tribute in the Guardian to the bravery and fortitude of the women who underwent what was once a highly-controversial treatment.

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Lesley Brown gave birth to her daughter Louise in 1978 and was, Robert said, “indomitable in persisting with a ‘hopeless’ treatment.”

“What is often forgotten,” he writes, “is the immense fortitude of the women who underwent this complex treatment, with repeated failure and agonizing heartbreak. They too had extraordinary faith, suffering pain, repeated surgery, and the dreaded return of the next menstrual period when treatment was unsuccessful.”

According to Lord Winston, many experts believed that a baby born after IVF would be abnormal or die. Since Louise Brown’s birth, around 3 million IVF babies have been born.

Lord Winston admitted that when he heard the news that one of his patients was pregnant following IVF to remove a genetic disorder, he was close to tears.

“Not because we had achieved some scientific breakthrough but because at that moment we recognised the bravery of our patient. I bet [Patrick] Steptoe [one of Lesley’s doctors] felt the same when Lesley Brown’s pregnancy test came back positive.”

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