Baby Born 15 Months After Dead Olympic Champion’s Sperm Is Harvested

·2 min read
Susana Vera/Reuters
Susana Vera/Reuters

When Australian Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Alex “Chumpy” Pullin died in a freak diving accident in July 2020, his wife, Ellidy Pullin, didn’t want to give up the dream of having his baby.

The two had been trying to conceive for months and had decided to try in vitro fertilization if they weren’t soon successful, she wrote on Instagram when announcing her pregnancy through posthumous sperm retrieval. “IVF was on our cards but it wasn’t something I ever imagined I’d be tackling on my own,” she said in an interview in Australian media. “A piece of the phenomenon that is Chumpy will be welcomed back into the world.”

On Thursday, she announced the birth of the couple’s daughter, Minnie, born Oct. 25, some 15 months after her husband died. “Hello, I had a baby,” she wrote her social media. “And we have been a lil busy and tired.”

When she announced her pregnancy in June on her podcast, she described the somewhat unusual procedure in which they harvested her dead husband’s sperm. “We were able to hustle—Chumpy’s parents were in town, everyone was signing court documents, legal documents and dealing with the coroners and the lawyers and the doctor,” she said. “We did that sperm retrieval process, of course, because Chump passed away, to get his sperm. The doctor did hand select the best viable sperm out of the millions and popped it straight into the egg.”

Her 32-year-old husband was the first Australian to win a gold medal in snowboarding, having competed in Winter Games three times in his professional career. But in July, he was free diving while spearfishing in Palm Beach and lost consciousness. He was pronounced dead some 45 minutes after he was pulled from the water.

Ellidy’s journey has been followed by fans in Australia. She posted an emotional message to her unborn daughter days before the birth.

“Your dad is a warrior. He is absolutely beyond this world. He will be teaching you and guiding you. I may be the portal for which you learn from him,” she wrote. “We will forever be frolicking right by the sea, where we know you will be.”

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