Just twelve hours after losing her husband Simon, to leukemia, Michelle Gordyn went into labour.
At the time, she was seven months pregnant with her first child and sadly, the little boy she named Charlie only survived three days before he lost his battle as well.
Understandably, Michelle says that that week was devastating.
“It was a good thing that Simon passed first because he went knowing that he was a father, I was having our child and that was one of the things that was really important to him,” Michelle told reporter Liz Hayes in a recent segment on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes program.
But despite Charlie’s and Simon’s death, it wasn’t the end of the road for Michelle and Simon’s family plans.
Using an embryo and sperm they’d preserved when Charlie was originally conceived via IVF, Michelle was able to fall pregnant again. And 18 months after Simon died, she gave birth to his daughter, a little girl named Gracie.
Gracie is now a healthy one-year-old who, according to mum, takes after the dad she’ll never know.
“Her particular mannerisms sometimes are very much her father. A particular eye roll. Or the way she lifts her brow,” Michelle said. “It’s a comforting thing. It really is a comforting thing. She’s not just mine, she’s ours.”
Michelle’s story featured last night on 60 Minutes, in a segment called ‘Life After Death,’ which followed women who have used their deceased partner’s sperm to have children.
In recent years, advancements in science have made it possible for doctors to extract sperm from men, if it’s done within 36 hours of their deaths. But those advancements have also raised ethical questions about whether it’s morally okay to take a man’s sperm – especially when the request comes without the man’s written consent.
For Michelle Gordyn, consent wasn’t too much a problem. As detailed in this feature article from The Australian Magazine, Michelle’s major hurdle came when she had to obtain approval from Victoria’s Patient Review Panel before she could go ahead and get pregnant: