Louise Brown: "People were surprised I wasn't born with two heads"

Louise Brown at the Gutenberg clinic in MalagA.
Louise Brown at the Gutenberg clinic in MalagA. / EVA SÁNCHEZ MELENDO
  • Louise Brown, who became the world's first test-tube baby in 1978, has been in Malaga this week to speak at a conference at the city's Gutenberg clinic

The first person in the world to be born following IVF treatment, Louise Brown, says that when people heard her history they were surprised that she "didn't have two heads" and was "normal".

Louise, who was born in the UK on 25 July 1978, addressed a conference in Malaga on Thursday to explain what it has meant to be the first baby ever conceived by this technique. Speaking to SUR afterwards, she said that in the beginning people couldn't understand that she was a normal person.

"When I was born in 1978 it was considered a sin for a man to masturbate, but if we think about it, how else did my father give his sperm to fertilise the egg. The church was against - apparently there was a meeting and the message that came out was that perhaps I wouldn't have a soul, but my parents took no notice of that," she explained.

Although she is in favour of this fertility treatment and believes people should have confidence in the doctors, she also says everyone has the right to their own opinion and that "nobody is right or wrong".

Louise explained that she feels it is her job to make people realise that there's nothing wrong with undergoing this procedure which - in her opinion, she stressed - doesn't just create a child, but creates a family.

The birth of the first 'test tube baby' filled the front pages of newspapers all over the world and one of the scientists behind it, physiologist Robert Edwards, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2010.

When Louise was born, her parents travelled with her to demonstrate to the world that the procedure was safe and that she was a normal baby, although a few years later they stopped making those trips because, she explained, they wanted her to be a daughter, not a "superstar".

She now lives in Bristol with her husband and two children, who were conceived naturally, and has begun to explain to them why their mother is featured in their school textbooks.

Hers was the first successful case of assisted reproduction after more than 100 attempts. Since then, millions of babies have come into the world thanks to the same procedure.

This makes Louise Brown a landmark in the recent history of medicine, a situation which she takes completely in her stride.