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A Tribute to Andy Glew

4th May 2020

A Tribute to Andy Glew

Michael Ah-Moye FRCOG
CEO and Consultant Gynaecologist

I have known Andy since 1985, when we were both training in IVF in London, under the late Professor Ian Craft.  

Half of Andy’s time was spent on day release at the Animal Research Laboratory in Cambridge where he studied Animal Reproduction under Professor Robert Moore, the head of the laboratory and an advisor to Professor Craft’s IVF Unit.  Andy forever spoke fondly of Bob Moore and the wonderful time he spent under his supervision in Cambridge. He was so excited to meet Bob again at Professor Craft’s memorial last September.  

In 1989 I decided to open my own IVF unit at the Holly House Hospital in Essex.  I never expected that Andy would want to want to leave London, the biggest IVF unit in the UK at this stage of his career, but I was absolutely over the moon when he volunteered to join me in my new venture! He wanted a challenge, to be Head of the laboratory, and as he lived on the Essex/Hertfordshire border, travelling to work was much easier than his daily commute to Central London. I was very excited although Andy was the youngest embryologist on the IVF team in London, he struck me as being one of the best embryologists around at that time.  

With usual zeal and vigour, Andy set up our clinic’s IVF laboratory, researching and ordering all necessary equipment such as incubators, microscopes, flow hood etc. Knowing his love of gadgets and technology, he was in his element! 

When we opened our first clinic in 1989, it was an instant success, with 13 of the first 18 patients treated testing positive for pregnancy, which was remarkable 30 years ago when IVF success rates was barely 10%, and this was published in the Serono (the world’s first manufacturer of IVF stimulation drugs) Newsletter.  Over the years we steadfastly maintained our position as one of the UK’s most successful IVF Clinics, consistently in the Top Five in the HFEA league table.  This success was largely due to Andy’s laboratory expertise, his meticulous attention to detail, his passion, drive and devotion to his profession. 

In 2007, due mainly to the need for extra laboratory space we relocated from Holly House Hospital to a new purpose built clinic at our current premises in Cheshunt.  Andy and I had looked at various new premises. Prior to its construction, we visited other new IVF clinics around the country, even as far as Scotland, to gain ideas and avoid pitfalls. Andy helped design the most up to date laboratory and Air Plant for the new clinic, which has been the envy of many in our field.  

Andy was undoubtedly a giant in the field of Embryology.  He was a founder member of the Association of Clinical Embryologist (ACE) and a member of its first executive committee.  For many years, as an external HFEA inspector, he helped to ensure that clinics operated within HFEA guidelines and the law.  There is hardly an embryologist in the UK who does not know of Andy! 

Andy was responsible for introducing many innovative changes to the clinic and he was a man of great vision.  He thought of a system to prevent the accidental mix up of gametes between patients in IVF and approached an instrument manufacturing company with his ideas.  This saw the birth of “IVF Witness”, developed solely in our clinic, to be the first in the UK and we believe the first in the World as well, an electronic tagging system that ensured the safety of gametes in IVF laboratories.  This was announced in a presentation at the Annual American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Louisiana USA in 2006. IVF Witness is currently used in a vast majority of IVF clinics in the UK and in many countries worldwide. 

Following a visit to the USA, Andy witnessed the start of Blastocyst Transfer. On his return to the UK he put forward the idea that we should follow suit.  We were one of the first, if not the first clinic in the UK to use Blastocyst Transfer as a routine procedure.  In 2000, our very first attempt resulted in the birth of triplets to a patient from Bolton.  Initially Andy was ridiculed by some very senior embryologists who felt that Blastocyst Transfer was just a fad, which like numerous other techniques in IVF would fall by the wayside and come to nothing.  As everybody knows Blastocyst transfer has dramatically improved the success of IVF and has revolutionised its practice throughout the world.   

Professionally, Andy was an excellent, dedicated and hardworking embryologist. He carried this same enthusiasm and zest into his social life. Andy was one person most welcomed in all social circles outside work. He loved meeting people.  With his wonderful cheerful, open disposition, infectious laugh, and a big smile on his face, he was larger than life and loved by everyone who knew or worked with him.  In the 30 years that I have known Andy, I cannot recall him being angry with any member of staff.  He was the most diplomatic person to work with and never looked down on any junior member of staff. He trusted and believed in people. He shrugged off disappointments, make light of any hurts, and did not harbour ill will against anyone. 

Michael and Andy

It was a great wrench when after almost 25 years Andy decided to leave our clinic and forge forward on his new venture.  However, each man must follow his own dream and destiny.  Andy had helped me fulfil mine, and with all my heart, I wished him and Sarah that life would give him the success he so deserved. 

Andy has sadly left us so prematurely and we shall miss him terribly. He faced his new challenges with the same indefatigable vigour, good humour and charm that he had lived his life, and with incredible courage that only Andy can summon at the end. 

It has been an honour, a blessing and joy to have had Andy in my life. May my dear friend now rest in the Love and Eternal Peace of the Lord. 

Andy passed away on 27th March 2020. He leaves his wife Sarah, two daughters, one stepdaughter and two stepsons.  

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