Oldham health chief calls for pioneering IVF nurse Jean Purdy to be officially honoured

Hope is growing that the nurse who first spotted an embryo that was to become Louise Brown was dividing into new cells will be officially honoured several decades after her death

Jean Purdy, who became an embryologist, was one of three in the pioneering team to create the world’s first IVF baby but has never been officially recognised, despite her colleagues requesting so.

She worked with world renowned Professor Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe in the world of fertility treatment but was not included on a plaque to honour the team.

Now Oldham councillor, Zahid Chauhan, has now called on this to be rectified and have her honoured.

Recently released archived letters have revealed that Professor Edwards had written to the Oldham Area Health Board 39 years ago to request she be included but this request was turned down.

Mr Chauhan, Oldham’s cabinet member for health and social care, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Inventing IVF treatment would not have been possible without those people – very much including nurse Jean Purdy.

“And while she isn’t around to see that I think it’s important that we recognise her contributions as well.”

Mr Chauhan is investigating ways in which he can be officially recognised.

The letters were released from Professor Edwards private papers held at Cambridge University’s Churchill Archives Centre.

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