April 10, 2009 — -- The birth of Stella Biblis on Feb. 25 was 22 years in the making.
Stella was conceived through in-vitro fertilization using frozen sperm her father, Chris Biblis, saved more than two decades ago.
Doctors believe 39-year-old Chris Biblis probably holds the world record for the amount of time sperm has been frozen before being used to create a baby.
Stella is living proof that sperm can survive frozen for decades.
And it was her father's decision as a teenager fighting leukemia that led to the medical marvel.
His case proves there are ways to preserve the option of a family: Sperm can be frozen and saved for later use.
As a teen, Chris Biblis was in and out of hospitals battling leukemia and not thinking very much about his future family.
Doctors said teenage patients and their parents often don't think about the parenthood issue when they are dealing with cancer, whose treatment can often leave patients infertile. If patients are facing a life-threatening disease, the priority is surviving, not procreating.
"I was trying to get through high school and living one day at a time, hoping I was honestly going to make it," he said. "It was the furthest thing from my mind -- being married or having a child."
And while it wasn't something he was considering, his mother, who now lives in Auburn, Ala., was planning ahead for a post-cancer life.
As Chris Biblis underwent chemotherapy, his mother persuaded the 16 year old to freeze some of his sperm. And he did on April 25, 1986, at Xytex International Ltd. in Atlanta.
But in 1986 there were no guarantees that the technology would exist to take damaged sperm and successfully fertilize and egg.
Yet 22 years later -- on June 12, 2008 -- thanks in part to the advancement of infertility science, Chris Biblis' sperm was unfrozen and his wife, Melodie Biblis, was impregnated.
And now they have a daughter named Stella.
"There was about a 35 percent survival of sperm. We were able to sort out the sperm and pick out the most vibrant. And by doing this we're giving the couple a better chance of having a successful pregnancy," said Dr. Richard L. Wing, of Reproductive Endocrinology Associates of Charlotte.
Doctors said there's no increased risk of genetic abnormalities or long-term health effects in a baby just because the sperm used was frozen for years.
"[Stella's ] chances are very good that she'll be a perfectly healthy, normal girl," said Wing, who first met the Biblises in 2004 when they initially were trying to conceive a child naturally.
What's even more astounding is the fact Melodie Biblis conceived on the couple's first in-vitro effort.
"It really is just a blessing. We really could not ask for anything more," 33-year-old Melodie Biblis said. "I definitely think I'm in awe of the whole process altogether. It's amazing how far they've come in medical science."
"The things we went through to get here. I was able to create a new life," said her husband, a Charlotte, N.C. resident. "Words just can't describe how happy I am."
And the Biblises may be able to have more children because they have five fertilized embryos in waiting. But, the two have yet to decide whether they will have more children.
The pair said they hope their story inspires others.
"I think it's important that families who have children with cancer or leukemia or have life-threatening diseases appreciate that there is life after cancer years down the road," Melodie Biblis said.