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Pioneer Reflects on Future of Reproductive Medicine
Dr. Howard W. Jones Jr., the surgeon who, along with his wife, Dr. Georgeanna Seegar Jones, helped to create the first test tube baby born in the United States, turned 99 in December. He is still opinionated, humble and charming, and he has a lot to say about the past and future of the baby-making business.
“Human reproduction is an inefficient process,” he said, sitting in his wheelchair in his condominium in this suburb of Denver. “On average, only one in five meetings of sperm and egg result in a fertilized egg with pregnancy potential. So therefore normal is the abnormal.”
Dr. Jones, as Robin Marantz Henig explained in “Pandora’s Baby: How the First Test Tube Babies Sparked the Reproductive Revolution,” has never shied from controversy.
Long before he opened America’s first in vitro fertilization clinic, Dr. Jones was doing sex change operations at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. He was also one of the doctors who cared for Henrietta Lacks, whose immortal cancer cells are focus of the “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” , the best-selling book by Rebecca Skloot. In the 1960s, he conducted laboratory studies of sperm and oocytes — immature eggs — with the British scientist Robert Edwards, who helped create the world’s first test tube baby, born in England in 1978. Read more.