IVF has become such a routine treatment today that we forget how incredible it was when Lesley Brown became pregnant with Louise – and how brave she was to undergo what was at the time an unproven and uncertain treatment to try to have the family she desired.
Both Louise and Natalie now have children of their own, conceived naturally, and for Lesley it was this continuation of the family that was so important as she explained in 2008. She said then: “Being a grandparent was part of our dream. That’s the reason we wanted children, because we wanted a family. There would be no family without IVF. Now I have children and grandchildren and it’s wonderful. When I look at my grandchildren I just think how lucky I was that I was able to get the treatment.”
Louise, who was 35 this summer, had her second son this year and named him Aiden Patrick Robert after the men who made her life possible; gynaecologist Patrick Steptoe and physiologist Robert Edwards. Louise said: “When I was born many people said it shouldn’t be done and that it was messing with nature, but it worked and I think it was meant to be. Mum had to have IVF to have me but I didn’t need IVF to have my sons. It is just the beginning of life that’s a little bit different, the rest is just the same. Now IVF is well-established and the pioneers should be recognized for the way they have changed the world.”
Lesley Brown and her husband John had been trying to conceive for nine years when she was told by her doctor in Bristol that nothing more could be done for her. There was however a doctor in Oldham that might be able to help and that is when she first met Patrick Steptoe. Following the birth of the first couple of IVF babies, Steptoe and Edwards struggled to continue their groundbreaking work within the NHS and decided to set up their own clinic at Bourn Hall. Lesley came for further treatment and became pregnant on her first attempt with Natalie who was born in 1982.