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First test tube baby's mother dies aged 64


The woman who gave birth to the world's first test tube baby has died.

Lesley Brown, who lived in Whitchurch, Bristol, made history in July 1978 when her daughter, Louise, was born in Oldham General Hospital.

Mrs Brown had been trying for a baby with her husband, John, for nine years before she became the first woman to give birth following IVF treatment.

She successfully conceived following pioneering treatment by Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards, with the birth making headlines around the world.

The 64-year-old died with her family at her side at the Bristol Royal Infirmary on June 6 following a short illness.

She leaves behind stepdaughter Sharon and daughters Louise and Natalie, who were both born following IVF treatment, and five grandchildren.

Her husband died five years ago.

The family attended a private funeral service in Bristol this morning.

Daughter Louise 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."

Speaking on behalf of Professor Robert Edwards and the team at Bourn Hall Clinic, chief executive Mike Macamee 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."

Speaking in 2008 Mrs Brown 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 for her and her husband.

She moved back and forth between doctors until 1976, when she heard about new research and was referred to Dr Steptoe.

Along with her husband she agreed to sign up for what was a very experimental procedure - something that was to change their lives forever.

Although other women had been implanted with fertilised eggs, Mrs Brown was the first to achieve a pregnancy which went beyond a few weeks.

Nevertheless, there were some who 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.

Dr Steptoe took great pleasure in announcing to the press: "All examinations showed that the baby is quite normal."

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."

For Mrs Brown and her husband IVF worked the first time.

The couple also needed only one cycle to conceive their second daughter, Natalie, four years later.