Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Celebrating the miracle of IVF

Two weeks ago, an 87 year old bloke in England died. What’s the big deal you ask? Well, his name was Sir Robert Edwards and he was the co-founder of IVF technology. He is responsible for the conception of an estimated 5 million people world wide.

This week is Infertility Awareness Week so it was rather coincidental I happened to come across this story and it’s a story of a dream, determination, persistence and not listening when others tell you you can’t do it. Robert Edwards started his work in reproductive assistance in 1955. There were many trials and tribulations and he only started getting really close to the final answer in the 1970’s.

Then, in 1976, Edwards and his partner, Dr Steptoe, received a visit from Lesley and John Brown. The Browns had been trying to conceive for 9 years, with no luck due to Louise’s blocked fallopian tubes. In 1977, she underwent the experimental “in vitro” fertilization procedure. They removed her egg, mixed it with John’s sperm, and placed it into a special solution they had created to help it grow.

Previously they had let the egg divide into 64 cells (about 4 to 5 days) before implanting it. But this time, they implanted it at 2.5 days. Unlike previous attempts, the fertilized egg implanted and continued to grow. It kept growing for 9 months, until Lesley gave birth to Louise Brown in 1978. Louise is the world’s first “test-tube” baby. She’s now 34, married, with a child of her own.
At the time, the whole concept of IVF had its supporters and detractors. It gave hope to millions of infertile couples across the world. But some didn’t like it. The scientific community was worried the doctors were playing God  with life and were concerned the baby might have health problems or mental problems, given it was outside the womb for the short period it was. Of course, all of it was just fear of something new and totally unfounded. She was fine, as are the millions of others that have been born since.   

Robert Edwards dedicated much of his professional life to helping couples achieve their dream of having a child. He worked tirelessly, and dogmatically, pushing through failed attempt after failed attempt, tweaking and changing until he got it right. He did this because he believed he could make a difference. He did it because he believed in his idea. He did this because he wouldn’t take no for answer. So not only did he pioneer IVF treatment, but he pioneered the journey you will take through infertility. You need to believe in your dream. You can’t take no for an answer. And you need to try again after a failed attempt. That’s what bought Louise Brown into the world, and it’s what will bring my baby into the world too.  

1 comment:

  1. Great post! ;) I couldn't agree more with you about not taking no for an answer. Resiliency, it will get you through anything and in this case create a method to bring miracles to many.



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