The news could hardly have been more devastating for policeman John Powell.
Diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 32, he was given only six
months to live and told that aggressive chemo- therapy would leave him
That was 21 years ago – and now he and his wife are celebrating the arrival
of a daughter.
Mr Powell had a sperm sample frozen before he began the treatment and, when he
was finally given the all-clear after two decades, it was used to create baby
‘We couldn’t be happier – she is a wonder of medical science,’ said Mr
Powell at home with wife Chenphen in Orpington, Kent.
‘I look at little Jasmine and think she is nothing less than miraculous. I
honestly didn’t believe she was real until the moment she was born and I saw
her face. Now I hold her and think she is part of me from 20 years ago, before
I had chemotherapy.
‘It’s astonishing that something as beautiful and perfect as Jasmine could
come out of a time that was so painful and difficult.’
For Mr and Mrs Powell, the birth of their daughter on February 20 is even
more of a wonder because they had enough money to fund only one cycle of IVF.
They were also fighting against the clock because strict rules meant Mr
Powell’s sperm would have had to be destroyed when he reached the age of 55.
Medical staff at the Bridge Centre in London, where they underwent the
treatment, believe it is a British record for 20-year-old sperm to be
successful in its first cycle.
Trevor White, an engineer from Manchester, became a father in 2004 after his
sperm had been frozen for 21 years. However baby Daniel was conceived after
four separate rounds of IVF.
‘I never thought we would be lucky enough for it to work,’ said 53-year-old
Mr Powell, a former superintendent with the Metropolitan force. ‘I didn’t allow
myself to believe it had been a success until the moment Jasmine was born.’
Mr Powell already had a daughter, now 23, with his first wife when he was
diagnosed with cancer in 1990. They split a few years later and after a period
alone he visited Thailand, where friends introduced him to Chenphen.