I had a miracle baby boy from a sperm sample I donated in 1996 while battling cancer – I’m in disbelief
A dad fathered a baby – using semen collected just three days before Euro 96 kicked off.
Peter Hickles, 47, gave the sample on June 5, 1996, after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 21.
But on Thursday – more than 26 years later – Peter and his fiancée Aurelija Aperaviciute, 32, welcomed baby Kai, born by caesarean section and weighing 8lb 10oz.
Peter, a former Spurs youth player and club season ticket holder, said: “I keep looking at him shaking my head in disbelief. It really is a small miracle.
“The fact that he was basically ready to leave just before Euro 96 and was born before the World Cup is unbelievable.
“Football is definitely in his blood. Maybe one day he will see Spurs win the league, who knows.
“It’s amazing to think it’s been in the freezer this whole time.”
Peter was in Spurs’ youth squad at the age of ten, but was released at 15 and went on to play for Dagenham and Redbridge and Grays Athletic.
He fell ill while with the Isthmian League Grays and doctors initially thought he had rheumatoid arthritis.
Two weeks after traveling to Australia for a year-long vacation, doctors discovered a back tumor caused by Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
They told him to fly home so he could have the support of his family and friends during his chemo.
But before the treatment, he went to a hospital to give a semen sample on the advice of doctors.
He said: “It was a bit ugly having to do it. There were magazines left in a cabin.
“I’ll never forget it – I had to hand the plastic potty back to reception and for some reason it’s still a young lady.
“I had to wait an hour while they checked the quality, so I had a few pints and when I came back they said it was fine.”
Euro 96 kicked off at the same time and three days later England drew 1-1 with Switzerland in their opening game of the tournament.
They were knocked out in the semi-finals by Germany when Gareth Southgate kicked in an infamous penalty shootout.
That year, a pint of beer averaged just £1.23, John Major was Prime Minister and EastEnders favorite Arthur Fowler collapsed and died in his housing estate.
Peter went through nine grueling rounds of chemotherapy and, although the treatment was difficult, he managed to watch a few matches in the pub with his friends.
He said: “I watched a lot of it on TV – the highlight was Gazza’s goal against Scotland where he chipped the defender and then . . . back of the net. It’s the one everyone remembers.
When he gave his sample, his sperm was expected to have a shelf life of only ten years.
But, medical advances have allowed doctors to improve its viability.
Peter said: “After chemotherapy I had no more sperm, which is what many men with cancer experience.
“When I got together with Aurelija, we wanted a child but we knew it would be difficult. I’m incredibly lucky to have him.
“Fortunately, the sperm sample was found to be viable, so we decided to attempt IVF.”
Kai was conceived after the couple paid £30,000 for IVF treatment.
Doctors recovered Peter’s semen sample which had been stored in a freezer at University College Hospital in London.
Peter, who runs a landscaping and surfacing business near his home in Colchester, Essex, said: ‘I can’t believe it’s happened now. I am such a lucky father.
It was close to the longest gap between sperm collected and birth – a couple in America hold the world record for having a baby using a 27-year-old sample.
Baby Kai is now home and the proud dad says he can’t wait to see Harry Kane’s men at next month’s World Cup with his son.
Peter says there is still some of his sperm left if he and his fiancee want a sibling for Kai.
He added: “It’s a bridge we haven’t crossed yet. Kai is only a few days old. Let’s see what will happen in the World Cup first.
Start on ice
DURING IVF, an egg is taken from the woman’s ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory.
The fertilized egg, or embryo, is then returned to the woman’s womb where it can mature.
Couples can get IVF on the NHS and it’s available in private clinics, but a round of treatment usually costs up to £5,000.
As with Peter, sperm or eggs are frozen after being collected from young people at risk of infertility.
It’s rare for the gap between collection and birth to be as long as in Peter’s case – but in 2011 the Glasgow musician, who also waited 26 years, became the father of twins.