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Reprod Biomed Soc Online. 2015 Jun;1(1):46-57. doi: 10.1016/j.rbms.2015.04.005.

The Oldham Notebooks: an analysis of the development of IVF 1969-1978. V. The role of Jean Purdy reassessed.

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Anatomy School and Centre for Trophoblast Research, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DY, UK.
Bourn Hall Clinic, Bourn, Cambridge CB23 2TN.


The role of Jean Purdy in the work leading to the birth of Louise Brown is assessed. We report that Purdy: (i) recorded and organized most of the data systematically; (ii) probably spent longer working in Oldham than did Edwards; (iii) whilst there, was primarily responsible for organizing laboratory supplies, including media preparation and testing; (iv) was involved in patient care; and (v) was a major source of support to Edwards. We find that Purdy, despite her nursing qualification, was not involved in laparoscopic egg retrieval and clinical aspects, but was focused on basic research activities. The evidence on who was present at embryo transfers is less clear, but suggests that Edwards was present for all, whereas Purdy may have been absent for some. Overall, we conclude that Purdy's role was a highly significant and under-appreciated element in the achievement of IVF in Oldham.


Edwards and Steptoe; IVF; Louise Brown, Oldham; Purdy

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