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Hundreds celebrate 25 years of in vitro

By Associated Press
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 27, 2003

BOURN, England - When Louise Brown cut a big, frosted cake at a huge lawn party Saturday, she was celebrating far more than her 25th birthday.

Brown, the world's first test-tube baby, marked the anniversary of in vitro fertilization, a technique that revolutionized treatment for the infertile and has brought about the conception of more than 1-million children.

Hundreds of IVF babies and their families gathered to celebrate the medical milestone at Bourn Hall Clinic outside Cambridge, founded in 1980 by Dr. Robert Edwards and the late Dr. Patrick Steptoe.

"Louise's birth signified so much," Edwards said. "For the first time, science and medicine had entered human conception in the most decisive manner."

Edwards was flanked at a news conference by Brown and Alastair Macdonald, the world's second IVF baby.

Brown, who was born on July 25, 1978, and is a postal worker, said she didn't consider herself special. "I just get on with my life," she said. "Just normal - I just plod along."

Edwards' and Steptoe's pioneering technique - combining sperm and egg outside a woman's body and then implanting the resulting embryo in her uterus - changed the options available to couples with trouble conceiving.

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