UK woman plans to use late husband’s frozen sperm to fall pregnant - and has already purchased baby clothes
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A UK woman is planning to have her late-husband’s child using his frozen sperm – and has already purchased baby clothes ahead of the big day. Isobel Barnes, 22, lost her husband Luke, 34 to a heart muscle disease in 2019. He died from multiple organ failure while waiting for a transplant in March 2023.
The young widow sold their house and went travelling for two months to complete Luke’s bucket list - and carried out a skydive and hot air balloon ride. Now back in Nottingham and in a new home, Isobel hopes to have Luke’s child despite him not being around.
Isobel wants to start the IVF process in the next 12 months, when she feels ready, and has already started buying baby clothes – including matching football shirts for her future child and her late husband. Isobel - who works as an emergency medical dispatcher - said the pair planned for Isobel to start a family when Luke knew the disease was terminal.
Luke - who was an IT service desk manager - was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy four years ago following a test for a dislocated shoulder. After routine six-monthly MRI scans, his health began to worsen, and he was put on the list for a heart transplant in March 2022.
But Luke’s health continued to take a downward turn and he was kept in hospital permanently in November 2022 - while he waited for a heart. He had a BiVAD (biventricular assist device) administered in December to help blood move through his heart.
He passed away peacefully after suffering a catastrophic haemorrhage and multiple organ failure due to excess bleeding from a BiVAD failure on the March 17, 2023.
Isobel revealed how she has been impacted by others starting their families after the loss of her husband. “It’s heart wrenching to see couples with pregnancy announcements or coming out of hospital with their babies,” she said.
“Knowing my child won’t have that. I won’t have that. I wonder if it’s selfish to bring a child into the world without that, but baby Barnes will have a dad.
She added: “He’s just not here anymore but he’ll know about him.”
Knowing how much Luke loved exploring, Isobel decided to take the plunge after he died, and solo travelled around Australia and Bali for two months. She spent their one-year wedding anniversary on a beach in Bali looking at the stars in June 2023 – as well as doing a skydive and an air balloon on her trip.
Describing the experiences as bittersweet, Isobel said: “I stayed in the bubble hotel on our anniversary and looked at the stars. That was special.”
Since arriving back in the UK in July, Isobel has moved into a new home but has been confronted with life after Luke. She said: “Since I’ve been back, I have really struggled.
“The reality sinks in. I have to recreate my own life.
“Everything reminds me of him.”
Despite not being ready to start the process yet, Isobel has already started buying children’s clothes and said her family is already embracing the idea of a child. She said: “Everyone talks about baby Barnes even though he’s not here yet.
“It’s so taboo - the conception of a child after death.
“It’s amazing. Such a precious gift.”
Isobel hopes sharing her story will change the talk around grief and organ donations. “Of course the only thing I want to do for the rest of my life is make my husband proud,” she said.
“But through sharing his story on social media so many people have said they are now donating their blood or planning to donate their organs one day.”