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Assisted Reproduction

This Day In History: The First Recorded Birth From An Embryo Transfer

The world’s first baby born from an embryo transfer took place twenty-seven years ago today at UCLA Medical Center. More on this milestone:

John E. Buster, M.D., working at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine, directed the research team that performed history’s first embryo transfer from one women to another resulting in a live birth.

It was performed at the Harbor UCLA Medical Center, reported in July 1983, and led to the announcement of the first human birth February 3 1984. In the procedure, an embryo that was just beginning to develop was transferred from one woman in whom it had been conceived by artificial insemination to another woman who gave birth to the infant 38 weeks later. The sperm used in the artificial insemination came from the husband of the woman who bore the baby.

This scientific breakthrough established standards and became an agent of change for women suffering from the afflictions of infertility and for women who did not want to pass on genetic disorders to their children. Donor embryo transfer has given women a mechanism to become pregnant and give birth to a child that will contain their husband’s genetic makeup. Although donor embryo transfer as practiced today has evolved from the original non-surgical method, it now accounts for approximately 5% of in vitro fertilization recorded births.

Prior to this, thousands of women who were infertile, had adoption as the only path to parenthood. This set the stage to allow open and candid discussion of embryo donation and transfer. This breakthrough has given way to the donation of human embryos as a common practice similar to other donations such as blood and major organ donations. At the time of this announcement the event was captured by major news carriers and fueled healthy debate and discussion on this practice which impacted the future of reproductive medicine by creating a platform for further advancements in woman’s health.

Dr. Buster and other members of the UCLA research team were featured on, The Today Show, NBC News, Good Morning America, Oprah Winfrey, Phil Donahue and showcased in leading print publications such as the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, and Time Magazine.

This work established the technical foundation and legal-ethical framework surrounding the clinical use of human oocyte and embryo donation, a mainstream clinical practice, which has evolved over the past 25 years. Building upon Dr. Buster’s groundbreaking research and since the initial birth announcement in 1984, well over 47,000 live births resulting from donor embryo transfer have been and continue to be recorded by the Centers for Disease Control(CDC) in the United States to infertile women, who otherwise would not have had children by any other existing method.


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