It’s amazing to think that it’s almost 40 years since the birth of Louise Brown, the first IVF baby – conceived after many years of perseverance by Bob Edwards, Patrick Steptoe and Jean Purdy. I was doing my A levels at the time, so I wasn’t really there at the beginning, but not far off. When I started working in the field of reproductive medicine in the 1980s, the HFEA hadn’t yet been founded and IVF practices weren’t really regulated or structured as they are now.
I remember being inspired by Bob Edwards who was the scientific director of the clinic that I was working in and always amazed to see babies born that I had first observed as a cluster of cells down a microscope. So much has changed – too long a list to go through in this short paragraph – and, with over 7 million babies born as a result of IVF worldwide, the technologies continue to advance – although sadly the woeful lack of funding from the NHS to provide equal and adequate access around the UK has become even worse.
I love my job and the team I work with, who I consider to be like a big family all working together (scientists, embryologists, nurses, counsellors, medics and, of course, the administrative and support staff who keep the wheels oiled). It is humbling to have been able to help so many couples achieve their desired families and also hopefully to have done our best to support those whose dreams sadly didn’t come true. Our annual Fertility Awareness Week is an important time to shout out about the affect infertility has on people and how in reality IVF and its associated treatments are cost-effective and worthy of proper funding by the NHS.