For the first time in Portugal, a baby was conceived with semen from a man who has already died, placing Portugal among of the few countries in the world to allow post-mortem insemination.
The mother, Angela Ferreira, took the lead in the fight for the legalization of cryopreserved semen insemination in Portugal, becoming pregnant with the semen left in cryopreservation by husband Hugo, who died in 2019 from cancer, age 29.
Before dying of cancer, Hugo wrote that he wanted his wife to have his child. The woman, lead a petition that in a short time gathered 100,000 supporters.
Cryopreserved semen is semen that has been frozen and stored at a very low temperature (typically below -130°C) in order to preserve it for future use.
This is done through a process called cryopreservation, which involves adding cryoprotectants to the semen to prevent ice crystals from forming during the freezing process, which could damage the sperm cells.
Cryopreserved semen is commonly used in assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI). It allows for sperm to be stored and used at a later time, which can be beneficial in cases where a man may be called for military duty to a war zone, is undergoing treatments that could impact his fertility, or when a couple is planning to delay pregnancy.
Cryopreserved semen can also be used in donor sperm programs, where sperm from a healthy donor is frozen and used to help couples or individuals conceive.
Portugal, now among the countries in cryopreserved semen insemination, is a pioneer in guaranteeing that all women who meet the necessary conditions will have this right, rather than leaving it up to the courts as it is the case in other countries.
Similar cases have already made headlines around the world, involving post-mortem insemination a procedure allowed in countries such as Australia, Austria, Belgium, Greece, India, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, and the United Kingdom.