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A step forward for science and a life for Lorena

 Like family.  Lorena Pérez, between Carmen Segura and Manuel Martínez Moya, whom she thinks of as part of her family, outside the Gutenberg Centre.
Like family. Lorena Pérez, between Carmen Segura and Manuel Martínez Moya, whom she thinks of as part of her family, outside the Gutenberg Centre. / ÑITO SALAS / SUR
  • The pregnancy was achieved by the fertility unit at the Gutenberg Centre and the birth took place by caesarean section at the Parque San Antonio hospital

  • The first baby to be born by in vitro fertilisation in Malaga is nearly 29 years old now and has two children of her own

malaga. Four days after torrential rain fell on Malaga on 14 November 1989, while the city was suffering the effects of one of the worst floods of the 20th century, Lorena Pérez Piñero came into the world by caesarean section at the Parque San Antonio hospital. This would have been just one of many births of this type had it not been for one unusual detail: Lorena was the first "test tube" baby born in Malaga after being conceived by in vitro fertilisation.

The joy felt by Teresa and Juan, Lorena's parents, cannot be described in words. After 14 years of trying to become pregnant, when they were finally convinced that Mother Nature was denying that opportunity to them, an assisted reproduction technique carried out at the Gutenberg Centre in Malaga enabled them to fulfil their dream.

Now, nearly 29 years later, Lorena Pérez is married and the mother of a six-year-old girl, Leila, and a three-year-old boy, Juan Jesús. However, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let's go back to the beginning...

After years of disappointment Teresa and Juan went to the Gutenberg Centre with the hope of having a child through in vitro fertilisation. Although they knew it wouldn't be easy, they didn't want to give up hope. At this specialist fertility clinic, which had opened in 1987, they were seen by gynaecologist Manuel Martínez Moya and biologist Carmen Segura, a specialist in clinical analysis and embryology.

"It was a complicated case because, as well as having a primary sterility of unknown cause, Teresa, who was 42, had a heart condition and had undergone surgery for it. All that meant the chances of becoming pregnant by in vitro fertilisation were only three per cent," says Dr Martínez Moya, who is now retired.

Despite all the difficulties, luck was on the side of Teresa and Juan and they were extremely excited to be given the news that she was pregnant.

"I was a baby who was really wanted. Having a baby made them so happy. Also, my father's wish came true: he always wanted a daughter," says Lorena, accompanied by two people of whom she is very fond: Manuel Martínez Moya and Carmen Segura. "I think of them as part of my family. He is like a second father to me," she says, referring to Manuel.

Week 40 of the pregnancy

Casting her mind back to that time, Carmen Segura says they removed two of Teresa's ovules by laparoscopy. One of them, once put in contact with Juan's spermatozoids, fertilised and achieved what had seemed as difficult as climbing an 8,000-metre-high mountain. Teresa was pregnant.

The pregnancy was normal, monitored by gynaecologist Francisco Campos and also by cardiac specialist Francisco Pérez Lanzac. The caesarean birth was carried out by Dr Campos with the assistance of Martínez Moya. There were no problems, and Lorena was born in the 40th week of pregnancy. She weighed a healthy 3.25 kilos.

"They were the first couple in Malaga to have a baby by in vitro fertilisation and it was very important for all of us at the Gutenberg Centre. We were all overjoyed," says Dr Mártinez Moya, as Carmen Segura nods.

Beside him, Lorena repeats that she was a very happy and much-loved child, and that her parents would do anything for her. "I only had to ask for something and they rushed straight out and bought it for me," she says.

Lorena was the third person in Andalucía to be conceived by in-vitro fertilisation, explains Claudio Álvarez Pinochet, the medical director of the Gutenberg Centre.

When she was a baby Lorena used to cry a lot at night and only became quiet when her father arrived home from the bakery in which he worked. Her mother was very worried about her crying and used to spend hours beside the cot in case anything happened to her precious daughter. Teresa lost a great deal of weight after giving birth. "She didn't get much sleep, that's why," says Lorena.

The relationship between Lorena and the Gutenberg Centre has continued over the years. Her parents used to take her there on 18 November each year, her birthday, to visit Dr Martínez Moya, Carmen Segura and their colleagues. "She always wore very pretty dresses and lots of ribbons in her hair," recalls Carmen.

"I had a very good childhood," says Lorena, as her own children look at her without knowing that their mother is part of the history of Malaga.