Split-second decision that made him a dad
CANCER wiped out Shane Burn's fertility at the age of 25. It was a cruel blow to a young man battling for his own life.
But fast forward more than a decade, and thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, the Gold Coast man is celebrating his first Father's Day.
Four-month-old Gemma is a dream come true for Mr Burn, now 38, and his wife Sarah.
The couple's fertility doctor Michael Flynn, of Queensland Fertility Group, said: "Shane had no chance of ever being a father if his oncologist had not made the instant decision to freeze his sperm following his devastating leukaemia diagnosis.
"When people are very unwell the sperm can also be compromised, so even then it was unknown what the future would hold."
Ms Burn had her own fertility problems due to endometriosis, so the couple's four-year battle to have a baby was complicated and full of anxiety.
"This couple was driven to have a baby despite the complications and these are the successes that make my job so rewarding," Dr Flynn said.
The new dad says the last thing he was thinking about after finding out he had cancer as a young man was having a baby.
"All that was in my head at the time was staying alive, but I am forever grateful that I was whisked away for sperm freezing," Mr Burn said.
"Then I had chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
"Gemma has made the tough path all worthwhile, and Father's Day is a very special day for me."
Chemotherapy attacks normal cells, such as the cells in the lining of the sperm-producing tubes in the testis. The treatment can temporarily or permanently destroy developing sperm cells.
Infertility of both the male and female accounts for a third of cases where there is difficulty conceiving.
"We had a lot of hurdles, but we are lucky that we eventually had success," Ms Burn said.