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IVF has been around for a while now the first so called "test tube baby", Louise Brown, was born in 1978, and since then, around four million (!) babies have been born with the help of this artificial fertility technique. When IVF first became available, it was surrounded by plenty of controversy. It still is, for some. But for many more, IVF has made their dream of becoming parents come true. The doctor who developed IVF, obstetrician Robert G. Edwards, is 85 years old now and probably witnessed a dream of his own come true last week, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine. Congratulations, Dr Edwards!

IVF has quite a history, and its development can't be attributed entirely to Dr Robert Edwards it is said that experiments with embryo transfer between rabbits, carried out by someone called Walter Heape, were successful as early as the 1890s! IVF success was achieved, also using rabbits, in 1959. But it is a huge leap to go from rabbits to humans, and Dr Robert Edwards made it possible. In announcing the award, the Nobel Prize committee noted that IVF babies are just as healthy as everyone else (look at: study says IVF does not increase birth defect risk for more info), and praised the winner for finding a cure for infertility!

The Nobel prize committee described the rise of IVF from a controversial, and small-scale practice, to an effective and accepted treatment: "Today, IVF is an established therapy throughout the world. It has undergone several important improvements. For example, single sperm can be microinjected directly into the egg cell in the culture dish. This method has improved the treatment of male infertility by IVF. Furthermore, mature eggs suitable for IVF can be identified by ultrasound and removed with a fine syringe rather than through the laparoscope." This Nobel Prize was definitely a well deserved one that has helped millions of people throughout the world, and will continue to do so.

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