Lesley Brown, the first woman to give birth to what was once called “a test-tube baby,” has died. She was 64.
She is survived by her daughters Louise, 34, Natalie, 30, and five grandchildren.
Lesley Brown wasn’t the first woman to undergo in-vitro fertilization, an experimental infertility treatment more than three decades ago. But she was the first to receive a transferred embryo that went on to become a live birth. Though her name was kept secret for years, talk of the “test-tube baby” was everywhere as were questions over the ethics and encroachment of science on the natural world order.
It’s funny to think of how scared some people were of Louise Brown’s life, since IVF is such a big part of the modern baby/parenting landscape.
Lesley Brown died with her family at her side. Her husband, John, died five years ago.
Brown became an important test subject in science history after she tried for nine years to get pregnant. However, her blocked fallopian tubes made it impossible. Brown had heard about experimental infertility treatments and reached out to the man who was conducting them, Dr. Patrick Steptoe and IVF pioneer Dr. Robert Edwards. Edwards won the 2010 Nobel Prize in medicine for devising this “milestone for modern medicine.”
Lesley Brown went on to conceive again via IVF and gave birth to another daughter, Natalie, four years later.
Since 1978, millions of babies have been conceived via IVF.