Patrick Steptoe life and biography

Patrick Steptoe picture, image, poster

Patrick Steptoe biography

Date of birth : 1913-06-09
Date of death : 1988-03-21
Birthplace : Oxford, England
Nationality : English
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-12-15
Credited as : Doctor, pioneer of fertility treatment, developing in vitro fertilization

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Patrick Christopher Steptoe was a British obstetrician and gynaecologist and a pioneer of fertility treatment. Steptoe was responsible with biologist and physiologist Robert Edwards for developing in vitro fertilization. Louise Joy Brown, the first test-tube baby, was born on 25 July 1978.

Patrick Steptoe worked with Robert G. Edwards to develop in vitro fertilization, a medical breakthrough that has allowed millions of couples to overcome fertility problems and have babies. His father was the registrar of births and deaths in Oxfordshire, and Steptoe first trained as a surgeon before specializing in gynecology. During World War II he served as a Naval surgeon at sea, and spent two years in an Italian prisoner of war camp after his ship was sunk.

Before meeting Edwards, Steptoe was already renowned for perfecting a method using a laparoscope (an endoscope consisting of an illuminated tube with an optical system, inserted through an incision in the abdominal wall) to remove human eggs from ovaries. He procured the eggs used by Edwards to refine his in vitro fertilization, and he was the gynecologist of Leslie Brown, a 30-year-old woman who had been unable to conceive a child with her husband. Steptoe performed the laparoscopy that obtained her eggs, to be fertilized with her husband's sperm and implanted in her uterus, leading to the birth of the world's first "test tube baby", Louise Brown, on 25 July 1978. The baby was delivered by Cesarean section performed by Steptoe, and he later recalled that as he handed the baby to her mother, "she cradled the infant, then managed to whisper: 'Thank you for my baby. Thank you'."

Their work was condemned by the Catholic Church and others as immoral or somehow frightening Frankenstein stuff, but Edwards and Steptoe were hailed by women worldwide with clogged fallopian tubes — a not uncommon malady. They soon had a waiting list of thousands of couples hoping to receive the procedure, and in 1980 Edwards and Steptoe founded the world's first fertility specialty, Bourn Hall Clinic, in Bourn, England, where Steptoe served as the clinic's director until his death in 1988. At his funeral a musical piece composed by Steptoe was played, titled "Requiem for A Dying Embryo".

By the rules of the Nobel Committee scientists must be alive to be considered for the honor, so Steptoe was not included when Edwards won the Nobel Prize for their work in 2010.

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