A Tribute to "Granddad Jones"

Heart necklace
Elizabeth Carr keeps a special necklace that reminds her of her place in U.S. IVF history.

I own a heart-shaped sterling silver necklace with the number "1" on one side and my initials on the other. I wear it only on special occasions as a mini good-luck charm or whenever I visited Dr. Howard Jones. The necklace is a silent reminder of my roots and a precious souvenir of the work that went into my birth.

Growing up, I knew that Dr. Howard and his wife, Georgeanna, were the doctors who made IVF technology in the United States possible, but I never appreciated what that meant until I was older. To me, Dr. Howard was part of my family. He signed my Christmas and birthday cards "Granddad Jones" every year.

The first time I realized I was not like everyone else was when I watched PBS’ NOVA documentary of my birth: A Daughter for Judy. I watched it seated between Drs. Howard and Georgeanna Jones, my legs dangling from the chair as the lights dimmed. My parents did not attend. I know now it was because they could not think of better people to explain my conception than those two determined, brilliant minds who had perfected the procedure.

That was the day I realized the courage of those pioneering doctors. And it was then I realized that all the media attention I had gotten my entire life was misplaced, because I did nothing. It was my doctors and parents who were special.

When I was 10, I got to meet and hold IVF babies numbers 1,000 and 1,001. I remember their parents telling me, "Without you and your parents, our babies wouldn’t be here."

But, in turn, without Drs. Howard and Georgeanna Jones at the helm in Norfolk, I simply wouldn’t be here.

Adapted from the foreword to In Vitro Fertilization Comes to America: Memoir of a Medical Breakthrough by Howard W. Jones Jr., MD, Jamestowne Bookworks (2014). Used with permission.

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Elizabeth Carr offers a few words about Dr. Jones