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World’s First Test Tube Baby Turns 34 Today

On this day 34 years ago, Louise Brown, the first "test tube baby," was welcomed into the world.

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On this day 34 years ago, Louise Brown, the first “test tube baby,” was welcomed into the world.

About.com describes the breakthroughs that led up to Louise’s creation:

Lesley and John Brown were a young couple from Bristol who had been unable to conceive for nine years. Lesley Brown had blocked Fallopian tubes. Having gone from doctor to doctor for help to no avail, she was referred to Dr. Patrick Steptoe in 1976. On November 10, 1977, Lesley Brown underwent the very experimental in vitro (“in glass”) fertilization procedure.

Using a long, slender, self-lit probe called a “laparoscope,” Dr. Steptoe took an egg from one of Lesley Brown’s ovaries and handed it to Dr. Edwards. Dr. Edwards then mixed Lesley’s egg with John’s sperm. After the egg was fertilized, Dr. Edwards placed it into a special solution that had been created to nurture the egg as it began to divide.

Whereas the doctors had previously waited about four days to try and inplant experimentally fertilized eggs into a woman’s uterus, this time they waited just 2.5 days. Low and behold, success – the egg took!

Then, unlike all the other experimental in vitro fertilization pregnancies, Lesley passed week after week and then month after month with no apparent problems. The world began to talk about this amazing procedure.

At 11:47 p.m. on July 25, 1978, a five-pound 12-ounce baby girl was born.

Louise entered the world as a celebrity, and in vitro fertilization is commonly used today to help countless infertile couples conceive.

So where is Louise today? AOL news follows up:

Brown is now 32, with a child of her own — 3-year-old Cameron, conceived the old-fashioned way and delivered the same. She has tried to live quietly, working as a postal clerk and then for a shipping company, but she is constantly revisited by reporters who’ve noted everything from her birthdays, to giving birth, to today’s announcement that scientist Robert G. Edwards had received the Nobel Prize for helping develop the laboratory process that gave her life.

Even if it’s a bit of a nuisance, though, it must be nice to know that the entire world is wishing you a big “Happy Birthday!” on your special day.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Stem Cell Pioneers 

How to Make a Dodo

 

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