In 1978 the first "test tube baby" was born in England, forever changing the possibilities for parenthood. The baby's name was Louise Joy Brown and on July 24, 2018, she turned 40.
Brown's mother participated in an experimental procedure that we now know as in vitro fertilization, or IVF. What is so common now was so new back then that Brown was delivered under the glow of flashlights at Oldham General Hospital so as not to alert the media.
The scientists behind the innovative procedure — Patrick Steptoe, Robert Edwards, and Jean Purdy — have all since passed away.
Brown remembers them fondly, saying:
It sounds weird but they were like grandfather figures … they were sort of a bit older than mum and dad. We used to send them birthday cards and they used to send us birthday cards, and whenever we could see each other we would.
Due to the incredible breakthrough, millions of babies have been born using IVF.
Twitter wished Brown a very happy birthday!
Today is the 40th anniversary of the birth of the first IVF baby, Louise Brown. Her conception was the result of research carried out by Nobel Laureate Robert Edwards, shown holding her in this photo. Since then his work has helped millions bring new life into the world. pic.twitter.com/8DzZPFCbGx— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) July 25, 2018
Folks shared photos of their own children who were conceived via IFV.
Today marks the 40th birthday of Louise Brown, the first ever IVF baby. 👶🏻 She paved the way and gave hope to my parents who wanted and waited for me for years. 😍Very happy to be alive!— Molly Ward (@mollyalisonward) July 25, 2018
Brown thanked everyone for the birthday wishes and gave a special shout out to her brave mother.
Here's to many more years to come!