Mum of world's first test tube baby dies
THE woman who gave hope to millions of couples struggling to conceive when she gave birth to the world's first test tube baby has died.
Lesley Brown, who made history when she gave birth to Louise in July 1978 through IVF, passed away earlier this month aged 64.
Mrs Brown, from Whitchurch, who had two children using the then-pioneering procedure, died at the Bristol Royal Infirmary following a short illness.
She made headlines around the world following Louise's birth at Oldham General Hospital and was in the media spotlight in the years to follow.
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Louise, 33, said: "Mum was a very quiet and private person who ended up in the world spotlight because she wanted a family so much. We are all missing her terribly."
A statement issued on behalf of Professor Robert Edwards, who along with Dr Patrick Steptoe helped Mrs Brown conceive using IVF, was released by the chief executive of the IVF clinic the pair founded.
Mike Macamee, of Bourn Hall Clinic, said: "Lesley was a devoted mum and grandmother and through her bravery and determination many millions of women have been given the chance to become mothers.
"She was a lovely gentle lady and we will all remember her with deep affection."
Mrs Brown had been trying for a baby with her husband, John, for nine years before she gave birth following IVF treatment.
Speaking as Louise marked her 30th birthday in 2008, she said she had felt so desperate to have a baby, she was willing to put up with anything to give birth.
Mrs Brown's blocked fallopian tubes meant getting pregnant naturally was impossible. Although other women had been implanted with fertilised eggs, Mrs Brown was the first to achieve a pregnancy which went beyond a few weeks.
Some feared the baby – created outside the womb – would be abnormal and it was only after Louise's birth on July 25, 1978, that minds could be put at rest.
Mrs Brown said she remembered feeling worried about undergoing IVF.
"It was a very different process to what it is now," she said.
"So many people now need to go through IVF whereas, at the start, I felt like I was the only one."
Mrs Brown, who died on June 6, leaves step-daughter Sharon, daughters Louise and Natalie, who was also born through IVF, and five grandchildren. Her husband passed away five years ago.
The family attended a private funeral service in Bristol yesterday morning.