The world's first procedure has been described as a "most extraordinary case" and doctors hope it will inspire other clinicians
By Ian Leonard - A healthy baby has been born after doctors used sperm taken two days after a father had died.
The world's first procedure was undertaken after the father was fatally injured in a motorbike accident.
Doctors described it as a "most extraordinary case" and doctors hope it will inspire other clinicians to attempt the procedure when it was previously thought impossible.
Previously the longest time recorded for sperm taken posthumously that produced a healthy baby was 30 hours – 18 hours less than in this case.
IVF expert Steve Robson, an associate professor at the Australian National University medical school, will report details of the procedure at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists world conference next week, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
He said it was the most extraordinary case he'd ever been involved with.
"On a professional level this has been, from my perspective, a love story, and it has been incredible to be involved with helping a woman who has so much love and courage," he said.
"As a group we were impressed with the amount of love this woman had, and her tremendous endurance against all the obstacles she faced.
On a professional level this has been, from my perspective, a love story, and it has been incredible to be involved with helping a woman who has so much love and courage," he said. "As a group we were impressed with the amount of love this woman had, and her tremendous endurance against all the obstacles she faced.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had to fight for the procedure to be given the go-ahead through the Supreme Court in Adelaide.
It took two days to get the approvals, and then the procedure had to be undertaken in Canberra because it was illegal in Adelaide.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is the only place in the country is where the sperm if a deceased man can be used without written consent, although both New South Wales and Victoria states do not prohibit women from using the sperm if it is taken interstate.
In South Australia, sperm can only be used posthumously if it is taken prior to death.
However, in the woman's case she was able to prove she and her husband had been planning to have a baby, leading the court to order the sperm could be collected.
Associate Professor Robson said there had been fears sperm taken after death could have its DNA damaged, but this case had shown this did not occur.
In fact, the woman had fallen pregnant at the first attempt, and now had a healthy one-year-old child.
He said knowing how "precious and loved" this baby was, he wanted to report the details of the case in order to give hope to doctors and women who had been through the traumatic loss of a loved one
"I can't even say where there's life there's hope – perhaps just where there's hope, there's hope," he said.
Gynaecologist and infertility specialist Kelton Tremellen, who collected the sperm from the woman's husband, said he had initially been ambivalent about being involved.
He'd believed it "would be a waste of time" but had gone ahead because he felt it was a battle the woman "shouldn't have to fight".
He said many people would probably think that it was 'Frankenstein medicine' to take sperm from a dead man and when the Supreme Court victory reported some conservative groups called in unethical.
Professor Tremellen said he'd come to the conclusion that if the mother and child are happy and the child is healthy, then their opinion isn't really relevant.
He added there was no evidence that the children suffered any negative physical consequences.