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Patient Education
Story of a Miracle – The Test Tube Baby

The concept of test tube baby ( IVF) was born to a great scientist, Sir Edwards, in 1950s. It took him more than two decades of hard work and research to make it possible with the birth of the first test tube baby, Louise Brown, in 1978.

IVF is a procedure where the eggs of the woman are taken out of her ovaries which was once done laparoscopically and is now replaced by ultrasound guidance. The eggs are inseminated with husband's sperms and incubated at 37 degree centigrade in a special incubator. The fertilized eggs turn into 4-cell embryos in 48 hours which are put back in the uterus using a fine catheter. In case it works a pregnancy results. Initially the success in IVF was not more than 10%. With the aim to improve the success rates and bring smiles to more and more couples, a lot of research was carried out all over the world. Another feather in the cap came with the birth of the first IVF twins in UK in 1982. Different aspects were looked into as more work went into this field. The extra embryos that were left after transfer were first frozen in 1983. Today it is considered as a boon for patients undergoing IVF.

Male infertility was minimally addressed till 1990. A major breakthrough came in 1992 when the first ICSI ( Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) was born. In this procedure a single sperm is injected directly into the cytoplasm of the egg using a very fine needle. This revolutionised the treatment of those men who have severe problems with sperms or where sperms have to be aspirated from epidydimis or testes (PESA/TESA). IVF still had to see a lot of miracles. The embryos that were first frozen in 1983 started taking birth as healthy babies. A still newer concept was coming up in another part of the world where scientists were trying to freeze the eggs, thus the concept of the fertility preservation emerged. The first 'frozen egg' baby was born in USA in 1997. More was yet to come.

IVF today has no age bar. With surrogacy, egg donation, laser hatching, almost every couple can seek infertility treatment. The proof came in November 1997 when Liz Buttle, a 60 year old woman in UK, gave birth to a son. On January 26,2012, a 60 year old Raju Ben gave birth to a son at Jain Fertility & Mother Care Hospital in Jaipur using egg donation and IVF.

No wonder Sir Robert Edwards has been given a Noble Prize for making a pure fiction of 1950s turn into a well established field of medicine of the 21st Century.

Dr. Gunjan Jain
(IVF & Infertility Specialist at
Jain Fertility & Mother Care Hospital, Jaipur)