New wall mounted plaque at The Royal Oldham Hospital honours nurses involved in historic birth of world’s first IVF baby

9 March 2022

Oldham Care Organisation and Oldham Council have unveiled a new commemorative plaque at The Royal Oldham Hospital to honour two nurses who played pivotal roles in the birth of the first IVF baby, Louise Brown.

Louise Brown is the world’s first in-vitro fertilised (IVF) baby - born at The Royal Oldham Hospital on 25 July 1978, exactly 30 years after the NHS was created.

The new plaque honours Jean Purdy, nurse embryologist, and Sister Muriel Harris, operating theatre superintendent, who both played a significant part in the development of IVF and the birth of Louise Brown. 

Both worked alongside and closely with biologist and physiologist Dr Robert Edwards and obstetrician and gynaecologist Mr Patrick Steptoe on this historic achievement in medical science.

David Jago, Chief Officer at Oldham Care Organisation, said:

“Everyone would fully recognise that IVF was a ground-breaking contribution to medical science and has helped hundreds of thousands of couples and families across the world since. 

“We have installed this commemorative plaque to recognise not only the crucial role that Jean Purdy played but also that of Sister Muriel Harris, and to ensure our history is not forgotten.”

Cllr Zahid Chauhan, Oldham Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care & Health, said: 

“I’m proud that we can fully recognise the contributions of Ms Purdy and Sister Harris to this major medical milestone.”

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