August 23, 2008

Test-Tube Baby Doctors Set to Expand Pioneer Work


ONE YEAR ago today Mr. Patrick Steptoe, his partner Dr. Robert Edwards, and a crying newly-born baby had the eyes of the world focussed upon them.

The birth of the world's first lest-tube baby, Louise Brown, dominated newspapers. TV and radio. Reporters and photographers from all over the world he seized Oldham and District General Hospital hoping for a glimnpse of the baby or John and Lesley Brown, her Bristol parents.

But today, as (he year-old Louise, now a bonny healthy toddler already walking, delights in her first birthday presents, Mr.. Steptoe will be spending an. ordinary day, including a" visit to London.

The visit to discuss the future for the aiding gynecologist and his Cambridge partner.

It is widely known that Mr. Stepoe and Dr. Edwards will be the medical and scientific directors Of a private fertility clinic at Bourn Hall, a Tudor - monsoon in Cambridgeshire.

Mr. Steptoe is now 66 and officially retired from the National Health Service, although he still has an honorary contract with Oldham Hospital. This allows him the use of the private rooms but not the general wards.

In liis private consulting rooms in Lmion Street West, Oldham, the waiting room whore so many childless couples have" nervously sat before seeing him is dominated by a photograph of Louise Brown, at one-day old. hanging over the fireplace.

Speaking to me about his work, Mr. Steptoe said the months after the birth of Louise and after the birth of the second test-tube baby, Alis Ulir Montgomery, in Glasgow, in late January, had been spen in evaluating their progress, analysing their work and preparing it for publication.

"Dr. Edwards and I have been evaluating some of the problems which still exist," he said.

"We are conf id en tly working an the technical details and trying to improve methods. Gettins the conditions right for the return of the embroyo to the mother is just one of the problems, " We ore considerably concerned with the fertility rate and with monitoring the growth of embryos."

Latest methods showed that they have achieved a fertility rate of 18 per cent.

He emphasised; "We are not creating life. Life never stops - it is in the esgs and In the sperm. We merely give an opportunity for shuffling the genes."

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