Fertility Technology Helps Couple Have Baby Decades After Cancer Treatment

April 14, 2009 08:58 AM
by Lindsey Chapman
Before receiving radiation treatment for cancer as a teenager, Chris Biblis made a sperm donation that allowed him and his wife to have a baby 22 years later.

An IVF Success Story

Biblis was diagnosed with leukemia in the early 1980s. He was 13 at the time, and received chemotherapy for three years, according to The Charlotte Observer.

When he was 16, doctors suggested two more years of treatment, including radiation that could make him sterile.

Biblis’ parents worried that he might not be able to have children, and convinced doctors to save a sperm sample from Chris. The idea was considered “unusual” at the time.

Biblis, now in his late 30s, and his wife Melodie, recently celebrated the birth of their first child, who was conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) using his sperm sample collected years ago.
Doctors believe Biblis and his wife may have set, or tied, a world record “for having used the longest-frozen sperm to produce a baby,” The Charlotte Observer wrote.

FOX News reported that a sperm cell was first injected into a human egg in a lab by scientists in 1992.

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, nearly 500,000 babies have been born in the United States through 2006 using IVF and other assisted reproductive technology methods.

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Related Topic: Improvements and controversy in IVF technology

In fertility treatments like IVF, it has been difficult for doctors to tell if a “test tube” embryo will implant into a woman’s uterus and become a baby.

To increase chances of pregnancy, some couples allow more than one embryo to be transferred into a woman’s uterus. The result is often a “multiple pregnancy,” from which more than one baby is born. In some cases, the pregnancy can be very dangerous for the mother and the babies born.

Earlier this year, the CARE Fertility Clinic in Nottingham, England, announced that a 41-year-old woman was pregnant after using an egg screening method that that could significantly improve the success rate for IVF.
The new technique involves testing a set of chromosomes inside a woman’s eggs to determine whether IVF will work. This screening was heralded as a major accomplishment because researchers believe chromosomal abnormalities in the eggs are the main reason IVF fails. The method has been used before with frozen eggs, but this is the first time it was used with fresh eggs.

But changes in the IVF world have not all been well-received. The Fertility Institutes in Los Angeles received harsh criticism after claiming that it would use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to allow parents to select cosmetic traits of babies, such as eye, hair and skin color. Some said the idea was a misuse of PGD, which was initially developed in the early 1990s as a way to distinguish healthy embryos from those predisposed to genetic diseases.

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