A baby has been born using sperm frozen for 21 years – a world record, say UK researchers. The healthy boy was born to a father who had his sperm frozen in 1979 before he was treated for testicular cancer at the age of 17.

“We believe this is the longest period of sperm cryopreservation resulting in a live birth reported in the scientific literature,” says Elizabeth Pease, consultant in reproductive medicine at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, and one of the team.

“This case report provides evidence that long-term freezing can successfully preserve sperm quality and fertility,” says Greg Horne, a senior embryologist at St Mary’s Hospital and team leader. “This is important to know because semen stored by young cancer patients is taken at a time of great emotional stress when future fertility is unlikely to be an immediate priority.”

Chris Barratt, a reproductive medicine expert at Birmingham University, agrees the record-breaking birth will offer reassurance to young men undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer which might render them infertile.

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