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Baby born four years after parents killed in car crash

The baby was born to a surrogate mother using IVF. Credit: PA

A baby in China has been born to a surrogate mother four years after the death of his parents, according to Chinese media.

Shen Jie and his wife Liu Xi had been undergoing IVF treatment, but five days before fertilised embryo were due to be transplanted into Lui's womb, the couple were killed in a car crash.

The couple, who had been married two years, still had four frozen embryos stored in hospital.

Both deceased parents were only children, meaning the embryos became the grieving parents' only hope of carrying on their family line, reported Beijing News on Tuesday.

For the next three years the parents of the deceased couple fought a legal battle to have the embryos released.

Due to the lack of precedent for this kind of case, and because surrogacy is illegal in China, the would-be grandparents had to navigate a legal maze before their grandson could be born.

IVF is where the egg is fertilised outside of the womb and grown on a petri dish before it is inserted into the womb. Credit: AP

There are no laws in China to determine how a hospital should dispose of non-transplanted human embryos, and because both parents were dead, neither set of grandparents had rights to the eggs.

To obtain rights, Shen's parents filed a lawsuit against Lui's parents, because they said "suing the hospital would be too risky".

Yixing People's Court rejected their request to have the embryos released from hospital, however upon appeal, the Intermediate Court of Wuxi allowed the embryos to be released, but only to another medical institute.

Unfortunately, no hospital or medical centre would accept the embryos, and because surrogacy has been banned in China since 2001, the grandparents had to look overseas.

Louise Brown was the first ever baby to be born through IVF on July 25, 1978, at Oldham General Hospital in Manchester. Credit: AP

Eventually a surrogacy agency in Laos agreed to take the embryos and find a surrogate mother. The next challenge was finding an airline willing to transport the embryos.

As they were stored in liquid nitrogen tanks, no airline would accept them and the grandparents were forced to drive the embryos to the facility in Laos.

In December 2017 Tiantian, which means sweet in English, was born to a 28-year-old surrogate mother.

As there were no parents to prove paternity, all four grandparents had to take blood tests to prove Tiantian was their grandson.