In 1986 Nick Rafanelli was diagnosed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with a tumour the size of a grapefruit causing one lung to collapse and pushing his heart out of alignment.
Due to the position of the tumour, it was found inoperable, prompting doctors to schedule chemotheraphy immediately.
Not knowing what effect chemotherapy would have on his future plans for a family, Nick turn to a frozen sperm bank for his answer.
“Family is very important to me so I asked if I would still be fertile – there was no guarantee so I decided to delay treatment for a week so I could store some of my tatties,” he said.
For a week straight, he produced test specimens at the Hospital which were sent by taxi to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s reproductive medicine unit for analysis.
After the samples were found viable, they would be frozen for future use.
For 21 years Nick Rafanelli’s sperm lay frozen in liquid nitrogen at minus 196C, harvested just before his cancer-stricken body was blasted by chemotherapy.
It was a last-ditch hope that one day he could father children – but experts told him the sperm probably would be viable only for about seven years.
Each year he paid the annual $250 storage bill “just in case”.
Both he and his partner of 7 years, Teresa, decided to use the sperm he had been storing with the reproductive technology company Repromed for all those years.
“After two cycles of IVF with Repromed I fell pregnant and still can’t believe it – it is amazing.
“I am so lucky Nick had the foresight to store some sperm, that modern technology can help us have children, and that Nick is here in the first place.”
The baby is due on November 1st. Doctors say that:
“Sperm production will return to normal in 50 per cent of cases in two years, but in 15-30 per cent of survivors it will be permanently affected.”