Woman gave birth to husband’s baby 15 months after he died! Find out how

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“I saw him that morning — he’s the happiest, fittest person — and he just never came home that day,” the woman recalls

Ellidy Pullin, an Australian model, defied tragedy by welcoming a baby with her late husband Alex “Chumpy” Pullin, an Olympic snowboarder, 15 months after his sudden passing in 2020.

The couple, together for nearly a decade, had been trying to conceive when Alex tragically died at 32 while spearfishing. Speaking on a podcast, 31-year-old Ellidy said, “It was a normal day, we woke up like any other day – the sun was shining, it was a beautiful day,” she recalls. “I saw him that morning — he’s the happiest, fittest person — and he just never came home that day.”

The decorated Winter Olympian tragically lost his life while spearfishing due to a shallow-water blackout, a condition that can occur when breath-holding for extended periods underwater.

Determined to fulfil their dream of parenthood, Ellidy, 31, explored the option of posthumous sperm retrieval with the support of loved ones.

According to Dr Priyanka Suhag, Consultant, Dept of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the CK Birla Hospital, Delhi, post-death sperm retrieval, as the name suggests, involves removing sperm from deceased or brain-dead males.

“This procedure needs to be carried out 24–36 hours after death to ensure sperm viability. Many techniques are used, including aspiration with a needle, electroejaculation—a method that stimulates ejaculation—and surgical retrieval from the epididymis or testicles,” she explained.

The sperm is cryopreserved, or frozen, for later use after it has been recovered. The most common method of achieving conception using PSR sperm is in vitro fertilization (IVF), in which the sperm fertilizes an egg in a lab environment. Ellidy also went through the same procedure and began IVF treatment six months later. She went through two IVF treatments before giving birth to Minnie Alex Pullin in October 2021.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a specialized type of IVF, is injecting a single sperm directly into an egg. This advanced reproductive technology enabled the woman to fulfill her wish of having her late husband’s child, Dr Suhag said.

Recent years have seen a rise in the use of this technology, primarily due to changes in Indian societal norms and advances in reproductive technology, said Dr Suhag. The ethical value of PSR is still debatable, though.

“Consent, as well as the rights and welfare of all people concerned, are fundamental issues in ethical arguments. Presumptive consent without explicit approval creates serious ethical difficulties, yet presumptive consent from the deceased—either documented or inferred from discussions—is essential,” she said.

Another crucial concern is the welfare of the child born via PSR, especially concerning the social and psychological effects of growing up without a biological father. Additionally, it is critical to preserve the deceased’s autonomy and reproductive rights, which presents challenges in situations where explicit consent is absent. The Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) guidelines have led to an increase in PSR instances; yet, the ethical reasons against PSR, including concerns about potential exploitation and the welfare of the child, show the complicated issues surrounding this treatment.