The mum of the first test-tube baby to be born after IVF treatment in 1978, has died after a short illness.
Mrs Lesley Brown made history when she successfully conceived after treatment by Dr Patrick Steptoe and Professor Robert Edwards.
Her daughter Louise, now 33, was born in July 1978 in Oldham General Hospital after she and her husband John had tried to have a baby for nine years. Louise's arrival paved the way for millions of couples to have children via fertility treatment.
Mrs Brown went on to have a second daughter, Natalie, after another round of IVF. She also leaves a stepdaughter, Sharon, from her husband's first marriage, and five grandchildren.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Louise, who has a five-year-old son called Cameron, said: "Mum was a very quiet and private person who ended up in the world spotlight because she wanted a family so much. We are all missing her terribly."
Mrs Brown had been unable to conceive naturally because her Fallopian tubes were blocked
Describing her referral to Dr Steptoe, she said: "It was a very different process to what it is now.
"So many people now need to go through IVF whereas, at the start, I felt like I was the only one."
Tributes were also paid by bosses at the clinic, set up by Nobel Prize-winner Professor Edwards, which developed the treatment.
Mike Macamee, from the Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge, said: "Lesley was a devoted mum and grandmother and through her bravery and determination many millions of women have been given the chance to become mothers."
A family friend described how photographers desperate for a photograph of newborn Louise had triggered a bomb scare at the hospital, leaving Mrs Brown "mortified".
Martin Powell said: "Everyone had to evacuate the hospital. Lesley was so mortified, she said she felt she was to blame for people having to leave their beds."
Her husband John, a former railway man, died in 2007 aged 64.
Article: 21st June 2012 www.telegraph.co.uk
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