Couple’s test tube miracle
THE 30th anniversary of the world s first test tube baby through IVF treatment brought back happy memories for one family. Graham and Vicky Page from Charlton, near Hitchin, recalled their own thrill when both their children, Harry now 18 and Alice 15, we
THE 30th anniversary of the world's first test tube baby through IVF treatment brought back happy memories for one family.
Graham and Vicky Page from Charlton, near Hitchin, recalled their own thrill when both their children, Harry now 18 and Alice 15, were born after being conceived through IVF treatment at the famous Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge.
To mark the anniversary, Alice joined 30 other children, one for each year since the world's first IVF baby Louise Brown was born in 1978, at Bourn Hall to watch the clinic's co-founder Professor Robert Edwards and Mrs Brown plant an Indian bean tree in the grounds to commemorate the first clinic in the world to offer childless couples IVF treatment.
Mr and Mrs Page only took the decision five years ago to tell their children that they were IVF babies.
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"I remember so well the day Louise Brown was born. We had already been trying for a baby for three years and had undergone various tests at the local hospital but no explanation had been
found," said Mrs Page, who like many couples never did find the cause of their infertility.
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"I thought the birth of the first test tube baby was fantastic, but it was treatment that would only ever be available to a few carefully chosen couples, not something for the masses and certainly not for us.
"It took many more years before our GP finally agreed to refer us to Bourn Hall; years of endless temperature charts to chart fertile times and being told to go on holiday and forget all about it. During that time we were referred to Kings College and Royal Free Hospitals and I had several procedures to ensure my tubes were clear.
"We were always in limbo, every month we hoped it would happen and it was very hard to keep control of our lives."
In 1986 Vicky and Graham went to Bourn Hall and Vicky even gave up her job to start treatment, which was given as an in-patient at the time.
"It was still very unusual to be having IVF. Not something you wanted to make public and being an in-patient had advantages and disadvantages," added Mrs Page.
"It gave you a ready-made support system and I made many friends, several of whom I still keep in touch with. But it was also very claustrophobic and we were all quite emotional."
Recalling the time when their first child, Harry, was born, Mrs Page said: "It was really fantastic. It sounds strange, but it almost came as a shock when he was born.
"I think I had been in denial having a late miscarriage previously and it was almost as though I was pregnant, but not expecting a baby.
"I couldn't believe how lucky we were. Harry was christened on our 18th wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful baby boy after 15 years of trying.
"Once I finally made it to Bourn Hall, I came out with two healthy babies. We have been incredibly lucky. If it hadn't been for Bourn Hall we would have been childless."
Daughter Alice, who was told how she was conceived just days before attending a special party at Bourn Hall commemorating Louise Brown's 25th birthday, said: "I think it is really special. The only time it felt a bit strange was soon after I found out. I went into the chemistry lab and saw the test tubes.
"That was a bit weird. But overall, it makes you feel more welcome in the world because your parents have gone through so much to have you.