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Friday, December 19, 2008

Baby girl born using frozen sperm from father killed by cancer FOUR years ago

Her father couldn't be there when she was born. And he won't be able to watch her grow up.

But Jaimie-Rose Roberts, born four years after his death, will still be a Daddy's girl.
James Roberts, who died from cancer at 33, had always dreamed of adding to his family.

As he battled his illness, he and his wife Lisa, who already had a son together, decided to have his sperm frozen to ensure they could have more children.
Joy: Lisa Roberts proudly hugs Jaimie-Rose, conceived through her dead husband's frozen sperm
Lisa and husband James Roberts

Last week, Mrs Roberts fulfilled their dream on her own after a course of IVF treatment that doctors had warned had only a 20 per cent chance of working.
"She's amazing," she said as she held her week-old daughter in her arms.
"I hope James is looking down on us with a smile on his face.
"I wish he was here to see her because I know he would be so happy.
"She's just beautiful.
"I can't believe that something so lovely can come from something so tragic."

The couple's son, Cameron, is now seven.
He is delighted to be a big brother and suggested his little sister's name as a tribute to their father.

Lisa and James Roberts had been married for six years when he was diagnosed with a cancerous leg tumour.
They were warned that treatment would leave him infertile so he had his sperm frozen for future use and signed over ownership to his wife.

"He was really pleased about the medical technology to store his sperm for us to have more babies in the future," Mrs Roberts said."James always wanted a family - he always wanted children, he loved children.

Miracle baby from frozen sperm

Nick Rafanelli and partner Teresa Kilsby are still in awe that their beautiful daughter Monique Sarah has come into the world against extraordinary odds.
The healthy tot was born from sperm frozen for 21 years – an Australian record.
Now the delighted couple plan to try for two more children from the sperm put away all those years ago.
In 1986, Nick was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and told he might have just 10 months to live.
But he postponed urgent
chemotherapy to store sperm in
case he survived but was left sterile.
He did survive, and over the next 21 years his sperm stayed frozen at -196C in liquid hydrogen, with Nick paying the annual $250 storage fee "just in case".
After a failed marriage, he met Teresa seven years ago and love blossomed. In 2005, they left Adelaide for a new life on an organic farm near Victor Harbor and talk gradually got around to the frozen sperm.
They took the plunge, and after two IVF cycles with reproductive technology company Repromed, Teresa fell pregnant.
On November 4, after a nine-hour labour at Flinders Private Hospital culminating in an emergency caesarean section, Monique arrived as a healthy 3.6kg, 42cm bundle of joy.

"We still can't believe it – Monique is so beautiful and we feel we are the luckiest people in the world," Nick said. "We've both been quite emotional but this is just the best.
"Teresa and I haven't put up a Christmas tree since we have been together but this year we have a very special one with lots of presents."
No doubt a few of those will include Crows teddy bears. Before they applied for the birth certificate or baby bonus, Nick and Teresa applied for an Adelaide Football Club membership for Monique. The family have spent the past week in Port Pirie, where Nick grew up, catching up with family and dozens of well-wishers.

They will have a family Christmas at their home with plenty of relatives from both sides joining them to celebrate the miracles of two births 2000 years apart.

Teresa is keen to try for another child soon.
"Hopefully we will try for another two because I would love to have three children, but if not we will be very happy with our good luck with Monique," she said.

Nick had 22 sperm samples frozen, and has used four – two for tests and two in IVF cycles – leaving the couple 18 still in storage for future use.
Nick can now look back on his battle with cancer and laugh, although it was a debilitating battle involving 10 rounds of chemo, two operations and 27 lumbar punctures to deal with a tumour the size of a grapefruit in his chest.

Even his sperm storage was a drama. He had to produce a test specimen at the Royal Adelaide Hospital that was sent in a taxi to The Queen Elizabeth Hospital's reproductive medicine unit for analysis. When it was found viable he spent the next week producing specimens while hooked up to two tubes protruding from his chest from surgery, a drip in his arm and riddled with pain.

These, too, were bottled, put in brown paper bags and again sent to the QEH by taxi to be put into slumber.
Nick was strongly supported by the Port Pirie community, family, friends, doctors and fellow patients at that time.

He said his story in the Sunday Mail in October, when Teresa was pregnant, put him back in touch with many people thrilled to know his good fortune. "I was especially pleased the Sunday Mail was able to put me in touch with the family of Jenny Butterworth, a fellow cancer patient who gave me strength but sadly lost her own battle," he said.
"I have been blessed – at age 22 I was told I had just 10 months to live but I'll be 44 in January so have doubled my life, and now I have Teresa and our beautiful baby Monique. "I would urge any man diagnosed with cancer to consider his fertility options before chemotherapy, and parents or guardians should also think about it for teenage boys."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Good News For Young Male Cancer Patients

Male cancer survivors (MCS) are at risk of suffering from impaired fertility. Male fertility is dependent on sperm DNA quality.

“Young men undergoing treatment for cancer often want to know how the disease and its treatment affect their chances of fathering healthy children. Our large-scale study shows that there is a slightly higher risk of deformities, but the actual risk of having a child with deformities is nevertheless extremely low. I think this is good news!”

These words are from the cancer physician Olof Ståhl, who has studied this issue in his coming dissertation from Lund University in Sweden.
It is known that undergoing radiation treatment and chemotherapy can affect male fertility. For this reason, attempts are always made nowadays to preserve and freeze sperm before cancer treatment starts. Just how fertility is affected then depends on the type of cancer and the type of treatment. The result can be anything from unaffected sperm production to complete loss of sperm production, with a middle group where production is impacted in a way that leaves fewer sperms with impaired mobility.

The question of possible connections between cancer and the risk of deformities in future children has been less thoroughly addressed. Can cancer have affected the sperms even though sperm production as such is entirely normal? And in cases requiring in vitro fertilization, IVF, is there a risk of using sperms that need help carrying out fertilization but also are bearing damaged genes? These issues have never been studied before.

Olof Ståhl and his associates have now addressed the questions in a register study of 1.8 million children in Denmark and Sweden, born between 1994 and 2005. All children with deformities (chromosome disturbances, cleft palate, heart malformations, etc.) were pulled from the register and compared with data about possible cancers in their fathers and whether they were fertilized normally or via IVF. The study shows that there is a slightly elevated risk for deformity both among children born to former cancer patients and among children conceived via test-tube fertilization.

The latter risk is already known, and it is regarded to be not so much due to IVF methods as to the fact that sperms that require IVF are of poorer quality. The risk elevation is small, however: from 3.2 percent – the ‘natural’ risk of deformity in children – to 3.7 percent and 3.8 percent respectively.

“This is such a tiny difference that it is virtually negligible. We also found that the combination of father-with-previous-cancer and IVF did not entail any further increase in risk. This is a great relief for former cancer patients who might be worried about the health of their future children,” claims Olof Ståhl.

The study is so new that it has not yet been published. The three other studies included in the dissertation were published in the journals Cancer, Human Reproduction, and International Journal of Andrology.