Forceps

Selected by Robert Winston

In 1976 I undertook the world’s first fallopian tube transplant. The procedure was under a microscope and in the middle of the operation I dropped the forceps on the floor. I had to make do with another instrument to finish the procedure. I drop things all the time, so it wasn’t all that surprising.

That fallopian tube transplant didn’t take and even many years later, when the transplant was eventually successful, the patient didn’t manage to conceive as a result. As with many experiences of failure (and success), this proved that not to try for fear of failing would potentially mean missing the chance to succeed.

About Robert Winston

Robert Winston is Professor of Science and Society at Imperial College London. In the 1970s, he developed techniques that improved fertility treatments and later pioneered improvements in in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and subsequently developed pre-implantation diagnosis. He runs research projects at the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology at Imperial, aiming to improve human transplantation. He has published over 300 scientific publications in peer reviewed journals. Robert is committed to science communication and has presented numerous award-winning TV and radio programmes and written 20 books. Made a peer in 1995, he speaks regularly at the House of Lords on education, science, medicine and the arts. He was Chairman of the Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology from 1999–2002.