If you have an IVF baby, or care about one, an important person to your family building has passed away. Dr. Fred Wirth, a neonatologist who cared for the first US baby born via an in vitro fertilization process, died Oct. 5 at the age of 68. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer.
It was Wirth who pronounced that baby, Elizabeth Carr, healthy and normal in a nationally televised news conference on the day she was born in 1981. As common as IVF is now, back then there were grave concerns about what would happen with these “test-tube babies.”
He and Carr met again in 2003. Carr told the media then that Wirth had written her a four page letter the day after her birth, reassuring her that although the circumstances of her birth were (at the time) unusual, she was a normal human being and would turn out fine. “He told me no matter how hard things got that I had two parents who really wanted to have a baby of their own,” she was quoted as saying.
Carr said having someone who was not her parents tell her that was really meaningful, and Wirth’s letter helped her feel more secure in times of stress over the years.
Wow. That’s just amazingly sweet.
Wirth became an advocate for beginning the emotional work of parenting before birth, and published a book, “Prenatal Parenting: The Psychological and Spirtual Work of Loving Your Unborn Child,” which recommends that parents manage stress and avoided anger and risky behaviors during pregnancy.
Carr worked at Reading Hospital in Reading, PA for several years and continued to see patients about ten days a month until June. He cared for over 10,000 babies during his career.