Physician who cared for test-tube baby dies

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RENO - Dr. Frederick "Fred" Wirth Jr., the physician to America's first test-tube baby, has died, his family said Friday. He was 68.

Wirth died Monday of pancreatic cancer in Carson City, said his wife, Linda Wirth. He moved three years ago to nearby Minden, 50 miles to the south.

Wirth gained national attention as the neonatologist who cared for Elizabeth Jordan Carr after her birth on Dec. 28, 1981.

Carr, now a 27-year-old news content producer for the Boston Globe's Web site Boston.com, recalled Wirth as "the guy who took me out of the delivery room and carried me under his arm like I was a football."

Wirth pronounced her healthy and normal at the first news conference, which the nation watched eagerly at a time when such medical technology was new and scary.

"I don't look at him as a doctor, he's family. It (his death) is part of losing your family," Carr said.

Elizabeth Carr was born three years after the world's first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in England. More than a million test-tube babies have been born since.

Wirth received his undergraduate degree from Duke University and his medical degree from Tulane University in 1967.

He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to a study panel on life support systems for malformed infants.

Other survivors include four children and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at LifePoint Church in Minden.

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