Lesley Brown, the first woman to give birth after undergoing
IVF treatment, has died aged 64. She made history when her daughter Louise was
born in 1978 at Oldham General Hospital.
Her daughter said that she was a very private person 'who
ended up in the world spotlight because she wanted a family so much'. Lesley
died at the Bristol Royal Infirmary on 6 June after a short illness.
Brown was unable to conceive naturally due to her having
blocked fallopian tubes. She received IVF treatment under the supervision of
Professor Robert Edwards and Dr Patrick Steptoe. Although other women had already been
implanted with fertilised eggs, Louise was the first child to be born after
At the time IVF was a controversial procedure, drawing
criticism from religious organisations but also some within the scientific
community. An estimated four million women worldwide have now given birth
thanks to the technique. Professor Edwards and Dr Steptoe founded the Bourn Hall Clinic
in Cambridge two years after Lesley gave birth, and it is now a leading centre
for IVF treatment. Professor Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in
Brown had been trying for a family for nine years before trying
IVF. Lord Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College
London said he remembered Lesley as full of 'bravery and moral courage'.
Three years ago Brown said that she was so desperate to have
a baby that she was willing to do anything to give birth. She said: 'I'm just
so grateful that I'm a mum at all because without IVF I never would have been
and I wouldn't have my grandchildren'.
After another round of IVF, Brown gave birth to a second
daughter - Natalie. She leaves five grandchildren, as well as a step-daughter.
Louise Brown, who gave birth to her son Cameron five years ago, said: 'We are
all missing her terribly'.