Milestones in IVF: 1978 – the birth of the world’s first IVF baby

As part of The Queen’s Green Canopy seven lime trees have been planted at Bourn Hall Cambridge, one for each decade and each dedicated to a milestone in IVF – one of the greatest scientific and medical achievements made during The Queen’s reign.

Tree 3 – The success – world’s first ‘test-tube’ baby

Max and Adaline from Cambourne planted a tree to celebrate the birth of Louise Brown, the world’s first IVF baby, who was born on 25th July 1978. They were joined by Leona Crookston, Lead Nurse at Bourn Hall Cambridge.

The birth of the world’s first ‘test-tube baby’ has been ranked alongside the moon landing as one of the most significant events for mankind in the 20th century, and was the catalyst for IVF (in vitro fertilisation) techniques that have revolutionised fertility treatment.

Louise has said: “Every time I meet a family that have a child through IVF, I appreciate more and more how important my birth was.

“The work of the pioneers and the courage of my parents (Lesley and John Brown) is still giving families hope and joy today.”

Louise’s birth also led to the formation of Bourn Hall Clinic in 1980.

Lead Fertility Nurse Leona says: “I love the fact that Bourn Hall was the world’s first IVF clinic and all the heritage which goes with that. There is such an aura around the place, it is very special.”

Leona Crookston (Bourn Hall), Hannah and Adaline, Mike Macnamee (Bourn Hall) and Julie Spence (Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire)
Leona Crookston (Bourn Hall), Hannah and Adaline, Mike Macnamee (Bourn Hall) and Julie Spence (Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire)
Luke and Hannah with Max and Adaline (web)
Luke and Hannah with Max and Adaline (web)

IVF means family

Max and Adaline from Cambourne were born following IVF treatment at Bourn Hall. Their parents Luke and Hannah were both super-fit so they were surprised when it was revealed that both had fertility issues.

Luke remembers: “It was very hard to deal with as it was just something which had never crossed my mind,” he says. “I remember feeling helpless and not knowing what I could do to change things.”

IVF has meant everything to them, Luke says: “We’ve been able to have a family. Max and Adaline wouldn’t be here without IVF and that’s an impossible thing to imagine.”

Read more about Luke and Hannah’s story here.

More information

Read more about the planting of Elizabeth’s Wood at Bourn Hall as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy Initiative here.

Louise Brown has a close association with Bourn Hall – among other visits, she has celebrated several birthdays here, launched her autobiography here, and attended a memorial service for Jean Purdy here.

Find out more about the history of IVF and Bourn Hall, the world’s first IVF clinic.

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