Louise Brown reflects on 2018, her 40th year as the world’s first IVF baby

This year I have travelled to four continents to attend celebrations of 40 years of IVF and it has really brought home to me the incredible impact that the work of IVF pioneers Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe have had on this planet

In July 25th, on my 40th birthday, I spent the day at the Science Museum in London where there was an exhibition about the scientific breakthrough that brought me into the world, enabled IVF to become available to millions and eventually led to Robert Edwards getting a Nobel Prize.

A year of celebrating the past and future of IVF

But the celebrations started in January and went right through to December. I must be the first person ever to have had birthday celebrations in Morocco, USA, Japan, Belgium, UK, France, Spain, and China in the same year.

It meant some long plane journeys, some lovely hotel beds, some strange meals and some wonderful company.

What I noticed all over the world is the same enthusiasm from the people who work in IVF to help those with fertility issues and the same desire from couples who so much want a baby. There are huge cultural differences, many different rules on who is able to access IVF and who isn’t but a universal agreement that being able to help people have a longed-for baby is a good thing.

So much desire and hope across the world

One of the highlights for me was talking through an interpreter to a crowded room of women in Chongqing, China. Every woman in that room was in a different part of their IVF journey. You could feel the desire and hope from them all that it would work for them.

I was known as “the test tube baby” when I was born. Sometimes it feels like fertility treatment is all about test tubes, injections, chemicals, processes, supplements and tests. But that’s not the whole story.

Really IVF and assisted reproduction is about hope and joy and babies and happiness and families. I’m looking forward to resting up over Christmas and New Year, no doubt eating too much and watching my two sons enjoy the festive season. That’s what IVF really means – creating families, including my own.

Here’s to a great 2019 and to all those on an IVF journey I hope it is the year you get your bundle of joy.

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