IVF is 40 in 2018 – the treatment continues to improve

Jean Purdy worked with Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards from 1968. After their success with the first 'test-tube' baby Louise Brown, Jean looked for somewhere near Cambridge to establish the world's first IVF clinic. She found Bourn Hall, a derelict country house 20 minutes from Cambridge, and saw its potential as a clinic.

As IVF is 40 in 2018, we look back over the successes of the last four decades. Bourn Hall’s first Technical Director Jean Purdy helped turn IVF science into a robust medical treatment. Before her premature death in 1985, aged 39, Jean saw over 500 babies conceived following successful IVF.  These were the first of over 20,000 Bourn Hall babies born so far.

In the 40 years since the breakthrough there have been other milestones:

1978 First IVF baby

1980 Bourn Hall Clinic opens

1982 Frozen sperm is used for IVF treatment

1985 Frozen embryos begin to be used in treatment

1986 IVF became an outpatient treatment

1986 Bourn Hall celebrates 1000 babies (2,000 worldwide)

1990 Introduction of treatment for men with spinal cord injury – surgical sperm retrieval (SSR)

1991 First surrogate treatment

1995 Introduction of ICSI treatment to overcome male infertility

2002 Egg sharing programme introduced

2003 25th Anniversary of birth of Louise – Bourn Hall Baby Party

2006 Sperm sharing programme introduced

2008 30th Anniversary celebrated at Bourn Hall

2009 NHS contract for East of England – implementation of NICE guidelines, offering three cycles of IVF, resulted in increased success rates through blastocyst culture

2010 New full service clinic opened in Colchester

2010 Nobel prize awarded to Professor Robert Edwards (not to Steptoe as he had sadly passed away in 1988)

2010 5 million IVF babies born worldwide

2010 Tea party to celebrate first 100 NHS babies born since NHS contract awarded.

2012 1000 NHS IVF babies born since 2009 – one baby a day since 2009

2012 MicroTESE introduced

2013 35 years of IVF celebrated with one baby from every year.

2013 New full service clinic opened in Norwich and a satellite in Wickford

2013 Introduction of 4D scanning

2013 First frozen egg baby born

2014 New satellite clinic opened in Peterborough

2014 EEVA time-lapse videography introduced

2015 Bourn Hall hosts launch of Louise Brown’s autobiography

2016 IVF gifting programme introduced which allows donors to give free IVF treatment to a friend or family member

2016 IMSI introduced to help select the best sperm

2017 New science laboratory opened for leading-edge research into egg development

2018 Launch of new Pre-implantation Genetic Screening (PGS) service

2018 Our new purpose-built full-service Wickford Clinic opens its doors

2018 As IVF is 40 in 2018 Bourn Hall celebrates with a memorial service for Jean Purdy – a Bourn Hall baby is now born every 8 hours

Our short video highlights some of the milestones, breakthroughs and important events over the last 40 years of IVF
40 years of IVF timeline Part I
40 years of IVF timeline Part I - click to enlarge
40 years of IVF timeline poster Part II
40 years of IVF timeline Part II - click to enlarge
The first IVF conference was held at Bourn Hall in 1981
The first ever IVF conference was held at Bourn Hall in 1981, including (seated from left) Robert Edwards, Jean Purdy and Patrick Steptoe - click to enlarge
The 2010 Bourn Hall Tea Party
The 2010 Bourn Hall Tea Party - click to enlarge

More information

Bourn Hall has 40 years of experience of supporting those with infertility and our success rates are improving all the time.  If you want to know more about how we can help you with any aspect of infertility do get in contact.

Alternatively you might want to attend one of our free fertility awareness events.

Related articles

Sort By Date
  • Louise Brwon celebrates her 40th birthday at Bourn Hall
    July 25, 2018
    Louise Brown celebrates her 40th birthday at Bourn Hall
    Louise Brown, world’s first IVF baby, celebrates her 40th birthday with Bourn Hall Babies.
  • Louise Brown - The story of IVF 6 million babies later celebrated at Science Museum
    July 22, 2018
    The story of IVF: 6 million babies later celebrated at Science Museum
    The work of IVF pioneers celebrated in Science Museum exhibition
  • Some of the Bourn Hall family with (front, L-R) Grace MacDonald, Louise Brown, Dr Thanos Papathanasiou
    July 20, 2018
    Louise Brown celebrates the life of Jean Purdy with her living legacy
    Louise Brown marked the 40th Anniversary of IVF by remembering Jean Purdy at Bourn...