Noah's life 18 years in the making

''It's a dream that's come true" ... Alison and Steve Hall and baby Noah.
''It's a dream that's come true" ... Alison and Steve Hall and baby Noah. Photo: Supplied

When he was 14 years old, becoming a father was the last thing on Steve Hall's mind.

It was 1995 and the fit and healthy Canberra teenager had just clocked a personal best in a local running race and was looking forward to his next game of football.

But life took a turn when he was diagnosed with lymphoma and required aggressive chemo and radiation therapy.

Parents Alison and Steve Hall and baby Noah.
Parents Alison and Steve Hall and baby Noah. Photo: Supplied

By chance, his parents had crossed paths in a doctor's waiting room with the mother of another cancer patient.

She suggested that the Hall family have their son's sperm frozen to give him the best chance of children later in life.

''I was only 14 - I had to learn on the spot how to produce sperm,'' Mr Hall said.

''There were some awkward moments in the [clinic] room.''

Mr Hall, now 33 and living on the Torres Strait Islands with his wife Alison, recalls his father driving from Canberra Hospital with a vial of semen wrapped in a blanket between his legs to deliver his hopes of future grandchildren to Canberra's fertility centre.

Five weeks ago, and after 18 years on ice, Noah Hall was born through IVF. ''Dad takes a bit of credit for the arrival of little Noah,'' Mr Hall said.

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''It's been a long journey. There were times when I wondered whether I would turn 18 and get to go out and enjoy a drink with my mates, let alone have a beautiful wife and family.''

Mr Hall was struck down with secondary leukaemia two years after his lymphoma treatment and required a bone marrow transplant.

He said were it not for the decision he and his family made days after his first diagnosis, conceiving a child would have been ''just about impossible'' due to years of aggressive cancer treatment.

''It's a dream that's come true,'' he said. ''To have a beautiful, healthy boy, it's an absolute miracle and blessing.''

Devorah Lieberman, a fertility specialist at Genea IVF, said sperm could survive ''in perpetuity'' in a deep freeze of liquid nitrogen.

Dr Lieberman said most oncologists treating teenage boys today would recommend freezing sperm as ''an integrated part of a multi-disciplinary cancer treatment''. But utilisation of the deposit was low, either because patients did not need it to conceive or they chose not to have children.

She said that while it was common in cancer treatment today, it was rarer for the option to be given 18 years ago.

Mr Hall's mother, Helen, said they received no advice on the subject from her son's medical team and feels lucky for that chance encounter with another parent in a waiting room. ''We are just so thankful for that one person because it means they now have their first child,'' she said. ''I'm really sorry I can't remember her details to thank her for the wonderful thing she did.''

Head to CanTeen for more information on fertility options for youths with cancer.