TUESDAY, May 25, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- In what's believed to be a world record, a healthy baby boy was born using sperm that had been frozen for 21 years, according to British researchers.
Reporting in the May 25 issue of Human Reproduction, the authors say the baby was born two years ago using in-vitro fertilization.
"We believe this is the longest period of sperm cryopreservation resulting in a live birth so far reported in the scientific literature," Dr. Elizabeth Pease, a consultant in reproductive medicine at St. Mary's Hospital in Manchester, said in a prepared statement.
"Even after 21 years of storage, the percentage of motile sperm after thawing was high," senior embryologist Greg Horne said in a prepared statement.
"This case provides evidence that long-term freezing can successfully preserve sperm quality and fertility. This is important to know because semen stored by young cancer patients is undertaken at a time of great emotional stress when future fertility is unlikely to be an immediate priority," Horne said.
Pease said the father had five vials of his sperm "cryopreserved" at the age of 17, before treatment for testicular cancer that left him sterile, according to the Associated Press.
Some of the sperm was defrosted to inseminate his partner's eggs when the couple decided to try to have children in 1995. The first attempt was unsuccessful and the couple began fertility treatment, again using more of the stored sperm, the wire service reported.
In 2001, the woman successfully conceived during the couple's fourth attempt at IVF. She gave birth in 2002 at St. Mary's Hospital.
Both parents, who were not identified, said they were eager to have their case profiled as an example of the safety and success of long-term sperm freezing.
The Testicular Cancer Resource Center has information about testicular cancer and fertility.