An autographed portrait of Dr. Howard Jones, addressed to Dr. Hershlag, in the hallway at the Center for Human Reproduction’s Manhasset office.
Dr. Howard Jones, the pioneer of IVF in the U.S. , passed at the age of 104. How befitting was it that “Dr. Howard,” as anyone who has had contact with him liked to call him, was given a gift of longevity. Rather than mourn his passing, we should celebrate his life, his legacy. Rarely does one person matter to the lives of so many people. Dr. Howard’s life is a story of a doctor who kept reinventing himself. The young surgeon who operated on over 300 Allied soldiers during WW II, chronicled every single surgery on a separate card, yet not a day went by when he didn’t write a love letter to Georgeana, his life and professional partner.
Upon his return, Dr. Howard led the Ob/Gyn Department at Johns Hopkins and developed a surgical expertise in gynecology that made him the prime surgeon in the country. He would get referrals of many complicated cases in the country and many from abroad. It was in that capacity that he met young Bob Edwards and gave him human eggs to fertilize – experiments that led to the birth of the first IVF baby in England, Louise Brown, in 1978. When Dr. Howard and Georgeana “retired” at the age of 65 from Johns Hopkins, they reinvented themselves by pioneering IVF in the US in Norfolk, Virginia, which led to the birth of Elizabeth Carr, the first US IVF baby, in 1981.
Dr Howard continued to lead the Jones Institute at Norfolk and inspire the viral spread of IVF in the country and worldwide. Millions of babies, children and adults owe their being to a person they’ve never met who, with humility, wisdom, perseverance and awareness of calling pursued what only 4 decades ago was considered science fiction.
Dr. Howard, you have been a huge inspiration to us fertility doctors. We have climbed on your shoulders to see the infinite terrain that is yet to be conquered. Your legacy will go on forever. And it is encumbered upon us to carry your torch!
- Dr. Avner Hershlag