A man who had his sperm frozen whilst undergoing treatment for leukaemia as a teenager, has, at 38, become the father of a healthy baby girl. Christopher Biblis from Charlotte, North Carolina, was 16 when he underwent radiotherapy treatment which would have left him sterile had his doctors not recommended he have his sperm frozen cryogenically for future use. In early March, his daughter Stella was born having been conceived using the technique intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a technique developed long after Biblis’ sperm had been frozen in 1986. ’From my life being saved to being able to create a life…It’s truly a miracle’ Mr Biblis told ABC News. Stella was conceived after doctors selected the healthiest of Mr Biblis’ sperm cells after defrosting, and injected them directly into ten eggs cells which had been harvested from Melodie Biblis, Mr Biblis’s wife. Seven of the ten eggs fertilised successfully and two were implanted, leaving the other five for future treatment should the couple wish to have more children. Only one embryo survived and Stella is now a healthy one month old baby. The fertility specialist treating the Biblis’s was Dr Richard L. Wing, founder of the Reproductive Endocrinology Associates of Charlotte (REACH). He said ‘I had no concern about working with old sperm – bovine and equine sperm has been frozen for long periods and has resulted in successful gestations’. The ICSI method brings an increased chance of conception beyond that expected in conventional IVF procedures where sperm and eggs are mixed to fertilise spontaneously. ‘They achieved pregnancy on their first cycle of ICSI…We had every reason to expect a perfect baby but are thrilled nonetheless’ said Dr Wing. Last February, it was reported that a Canadian couple successfully conceived a baby boy after using sperm that had been stored 22 years, two months and two weeks. The longest-known storage period for sperm resulting in a live birth worldwide is 28 years, according to a 2005 data report in the American journal Fertility and Sterility.
Childhood cancer treatment has improved dramatically in the last decade resulting in a greater number of survivors. At the same time, improvements in the field of assisted conception are providing a great chance for male cancer survivors to father children of their own after potentially fertility-damaging treatment.
There is a relatively small window of opportunity before young male cancer patients begin treatment, so it is essential that health care providers are prepared and diligent about providing all options available in regard to improving future fertility.
There should be improved awareness of sperm banking and future fertility treatments that may impact the cancer patients quality of life.
Rotunda Sperm Bank offers sperm banking facilities to cancer patients and many young cancer patients have preserved their semen samples at Rotunda.