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Dead Ukrainian Soldiers To Have Kids

When Natalia Kyrkach-Antonenko’s husband Vitalii was killed on the frontlines fighting Russia, she was 13 weeks pregnant with their daughter, Vitalina.

Despite his death, Kyrkach-Antonenko found some new meaning, hope and purpose with the birth of their child.

“My child is my whole life now. By taking care of my daughter, in a sense, I continue to take care of my husband. This is his continuation. Our continuation.”

The couple had always planned to have a large family, even after Vitalii joined the army in the run-up to Putin’s 2022 invasion.

After having a pregnancy that failed to develop in the opening days of the war – which she attributes to the stress of the invasion – Kyrkach-Antonenko and her husband decided to freeze his sperm. In his brief interludes away from the frontline, she ended up falling pregnant with Vitalina before they eventually managed the cryofreezing.

After his death in November 2022, Kyrkach-Antonenko didn’t hesitate to pursue using her husband’s frozen sperm for a further child.

She was shocked to discover that legally she wasn’t allowed to use the sperm after her husband’s death, despite having his written permission.

That should soon change.

The Ukrainian parliament passed legislation in February to allow and fund the use of soldiers’ frozen sperm in case of their death. Once President Volodymyr Zelensky signs the bill into law, it will for the first time allow the widows of Ukrainian soldiers to use their dead partners’ reproductive cells – both sperm and eggs – to have children.

It will also enable wounded soldiers to use their preserved reproductive cells to have children where their injuries would normally make that impossible.

Additionally, the state will pay to store these frozen cells for three years after a male or female soldier’s death, with clauses specifically recognizing the deceased biological parent on the child’s birth certificate. Currently, the government will pay for the initial freezing of reproductive cells.

Cryopreservation has been an “urgent but difficult issue” MP Olena Shulyak, co-author of the bill, said in a post on Telegram.

The reality is that the military, whose normal life and plans were interrupted by the war, often did not have time to leave behind their progeny,” she said.

It’s a law that will likely benefit many.

Ukraine’s battlefield losses are a closely guarded secret but US officials estimates some 70,000 soldiers have been killed and nearly twice that number wounded.

This legislation may go some way to providing a lifeline for families beyond the grave.

Kyrkach-Antonenko plans to use her husband’s sperm to have at least one more child: a playmate for Vitalina. It’s what her husband wanted, she said.

“He was fighting for the hope that we would have a family,” Kyrkach-Antonenko said of Vitalii.

Protection of soldiers’ chance to have families has long been on the minds of some Ukrainians.

Iryna Feskova, a fertility doctor at a Kharkiv reproductive center “SANA MED”, has offered free freezing and storage of reproduction cells for soldiers since the very first months of the full-scale Russian invasion in 2022.

“This is our contribution to the victory and to the reproductive future of Ukraine,” Feskova told CNN.

The possible injury to soldiers’ reproductive organs and trauma affecting the quality of sperm make cryopreservation of reproductive cells worthwhile, she told CNN, mentioning allegations of castration.

Feskova said interest in cryopreservation among soldiers has boomed since 2022, from a handful before to dozens of people a year. She said her clinic currently stores sperm from dozens of servicemen, while other clinics hold hundreds of samples.

Source: CNN

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