Thursday, 11 April 2013

Test-tube baby pioneer, Robert Edwards ,dies at 87

THE pioneer of In Vitro fertilisation (IVF), popularly known as test tube baby, Prof. Sir Robert Edwards, has died at the age of 87 after a long illness.

Edwards, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2010, started work on fertilisation in the 1950s, and the first so-called test tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in 1978 as a result of his landmark research.  Since then, five million IVF babies have been born worldwide.

He co-founded the world’s first IVF clinic, Bourn Hall, with obstetrician and gynaecologist, Patrick Steptoe, in his hometown of Cambridge in 1980.

He was knighted in 2011, a year after being awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine.
Meanwhile, the Joint Pioneer of IVF in Nigeria and Medical Director of Medical Art Centre (MART) Maryland Lagos, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, has joined other leading scientists in paying tributes to the grand father of assisted reproductive technology (ART).
“He laid the foundation to what so many families all over the world are enjoying now. Couples that hitherto would not have been able to have their own children are now happy parents. He will greatly be missed,” Ashiru said.

IVF is a process by which an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the body: in vitro. IVF is a major treatment for infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves monitoring a woman’s ovulatory process, removing ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a fluid medium in a laboratory.

When a woman’s natural cycle is monitored to collect a naturally selected ovum (egg) for fertilisation, it is known as natural cycle IVF. The fertilised egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient’s uterus with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.

The first successful birth of a “test tube baby”, Louise Brown, occurred in 1978. Louise Brown was born as a result of natural cycle IVF.

Edwards, the physiologist who developed the treatment, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010.

A spokesperson for Cambridge University, yesterday in statement said: “It is with deep sadness that the family announces that Professor Sir Robert Edwards, Nobel prizewinner, scientist and co-pioneer of IVF, passed away peacefully in his sleep on 10th April 2013 after a long illness.”

The statement added that he would be “greatly missed by family, friends and colleagues. His work has had an immense impact throughout the world.”

The first test tube baby, Louise, 34, yesterday paid tribute to Edwards, saying he had become an honorary member of the family, attending her wedding and visiting regularly.

Culled from The Guardian

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