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.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

News
Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Regional Gas Installation Manager - South East England

£36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Gas Installation Manager is r...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service and Breakdown Engineer - South East

£29000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Service and Brea...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Manager - Alconbury

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an Engineering M...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee