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Pioneering IVF medical staff recognised after 42 years

Two nurses who were instrumental in pioneering IVF back in the 1980s have been recognised for their crucial work 42 years later

Jean Purdey, a senior embryologist, and Muriel Harris, a nurse, both worked with Dr Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe but were missed off the original plaque installed at Royal Oldham Hospital 40 years ago.

But Royal Oldham Hospital and Oldham Council had wanted to rectify the error and arranged for a new plaque to be unveiled so that all the medical team involved in the first IVF baby being born in 1978 were recognised for the phenomenal achievement.

Louise Brown was born on July 25, 1978, exactly 30 years after the NHS was created.

Councillor Zahid Chauhan had petitioned the council to create a new memorial so all of the medical staff involved were properly recognised for their work.

Dr Robert Edwards is said to have asked for Jean Purdy to be included in the original plaque but in archived letters, it was revealed the request had been turned down.

Oldham Care Organisation’s chief executive officer, David Jago, said: “We are immensely proud of the Royal Oldham Hospital heritage and the significant contribution the hospital has played in providing local healthcare to the local families and communities of Oldham borough and neighbouring areas since the NHS was created.

“Everyone would fully recognise that IVF was a groundbreaking contribution to medical science and has helped hundreds of thousands of couples and families across the world since.

“We have installed the commemorative plaque to recognise not only the crucial role that Jean Purdy played also that of Sister Muriel Harris, and to ensure our history is not forgotten.”

Mr Chauhan said he was proud the council could fully recognise the work of the nurses.

He said: “Their vital work should be properly remembered. IVF treatment has changed many lives, so it is only right that all of those involved in its pioneering development get the recognition they fully deserve, right here in Oldham.

“A big thank you to everyone who supported the campaign to correct this historic injustice.”

The plaque was unveiled in March 2022.

 

 

 

 

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