Robert Edwards Creator Of IVF Dies At 87

Robert Edwards is known as “the father of IVF” and he certainly has a big family.

Louise Brown, born in 1978, was the first test-tube baby.

Since then, more than five million children have been born through IVF.

In vitro fertilisation has completely changed the prospects for couples unable to have children.

Fertilising an egg with sperm outside the body and implanting the resulting embryo means infertility is no longer a certain barrier to starting a family.

The technique sparked a huge ethical debate in 1978 and attracted media attention around the world.

Born in Yorkshire in 1925 into a working-class family, Prof Edwards served in the British army during World War II before returning home to study first agricultural sciences and then animal genetics.

Building on earlier research, which showed that egg cells from rabbits could be fertilised in test tubes when sperm was added, Edwards developed the same technique for humans.

In a laboratory at Cambridge in 1968, he first saw life created outside the womb in the form of a human blastocyst, an embryo that has developed for five to six days after fertilisation.

“I’ll never forget the day I looked down the microscope and saw something funny in the cultures,” Edwards once recalled.

“I looked down the microscope and what I saw was a human blastocyst gazing up at me. I thought, ‘We’ve done it’.”

“Bob Edwards is one of our greatest scientists,” said Mike Macnamee, chief executive of Bourn Hall, the IVF clinic founded by Prof Edwards with his fellow IVF pioneer Patrick Steptoe, a gynaecological surgeon.

Prof Martin Johnson, one of his first students, said: “Bob Edwards was a remarkable man who changed the lives of so many people.


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