You don’t have to be a scientist to understand why Robert Edwards got the 2010 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Edwards, the father of in vitro fertilization, pioneered the science that’s helped over 4 million couples bring new life into the world.
And you don’t have to be a fertility patient to celebrate. This story offers hope that one day medical science can offer patients with chronic medical conditions hope for renewed life in their days.
Imagine what people must have thought in the 1950’s when Edwards first conceived of IVF. (Sorry—couldn’t pass on that one.) Test tube babies might have sounded like Frankenstein’s Monster.
Infertility was a tragic medical condition, and couples turned to clergy for hope.
At that time, conception and fetal development were hidden from view. The earliest baby pictures were taken after the baby was born. Then technology exploded. Ultrasound imaging allowed parents to see their babies swimming in the mother’s uterus.
Thanks to Edwards, I have a picture of my son–about to celebrate his thirteenth birthday–as a handful of cells.
Right now doctors manage brain illnesses the way doctors managed infertility 50 years ago. They minimize the damage from an irreversible condition. It’s hard to imagine the brain healing from conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease, strokes, chronic pain, MS or traumatic brain injuries.
Just as ultrasound allowed us to see the hidden wonders of fetal development, so, too, we’re able to watch the brain at work with functional MRI.
I believe it’s just a question of time before we learn to help the brain recover from medical conditions. Miraculous things happen. All I have to do is look at my son to hang onto hope for the bright future in medicine.
What do you think?