The mother of a 27-year-old man, who died of a brain tumour in 2016, used her son's cryo-preserved semen to have grandchildren through a surrogate pregnancy, reports several Indian media outlets.
The preserved semen of Pune’s Prathamesh Patil was used to fertilise the eggs from a non-family anonymous donor with matching features and the embryo was then implanted in a close relative.
Semen cryopreservation, which is commonly called sperm banking, is a process of freezing sperm cells to preserve them so that they can be used in the future.
Prathamesh’s mother Rajashree Patil said he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in 2013 in Germany, where he went to pursue his master’s degree in 2010 after graduating from Sinhgad College of Engineering, and also lost his sight during treatment.
Doctors at Pune's Sahyadri Hospital performed the in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure and fused Prathamesh Patil's semen, extracted and preserved long before his death in Germany, with the eggs of a donor to form embryos.
The embryos were then transferred into the womb of a surrogate mother, who gave birth to the twins - a boy and a girl - on Monday.
Prathamesh Patil's mother Rajashree Patil said in 2010 her son had gone to Germany to pursue a master's degree when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
"The news was a shock to our family. Health experts in Germany suggested that Prathamesh start chemotherapy and radiation procedures. They also asked him to preserve his semen to avoid any negative effects on his body post-treatment," she said.
However, he suffered convulsions and also lost his vision, said Rajashree Patil, who teaches at a school in Pune.
The family brought the ailing Prathamesh to India in 2013 and took him to a hospital in Mumbai, where he was operated upon following which his health showed signs of improvement.
"However, in between, he suffered another convulsion and was detected with a recurring tumour. He succumbed to a malignant tumour in September 2016," the mother said.
After his death, the mother, having a desire to get her son back, contacted the semen bank in Germany where Prathamesh Patil's semen was cryo-preserved.
After completing the formalities, the semen was brought to India.
The mother then approached Sahyadri Hospital for an IVF procedure with the help of his son's semen.
The woman, who is Prathamesh’s aunt, delivered twins on February 12. Rajashree has named them Prathamesh and Preesha or God’s gift, according to the Express.
Dr Supriya Puranik, head of the IVF department at Sahyadri Hospital, said Rajashree’s case was different than other women delivering babies through the artificial procedure.
“Being an IVF specialist, I am happy that science and new technologies are adding cheerful moments in people’s lives... But here, in this case, it was about a grief-stricken mother whose son was away for studies when he faced health issues,” Puranik said.