In 1983, Shane Breen was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He was 26-years-old and single at the time. Before he began chemotherapy treatment, the Northern Ireland man decided to freeze a sample of his sperm in case the treatment left him infertile, the BBC reports.
By 2010, Shane had married his wife, Nora, and the couple were ready to become parents. While they had planned to use the frozen sample he had stored at the Belfast Health Trust fertility clinic, the couple was shocked to learn it had been destroyed when the facility made room for more storage.
Officials from the Belfast Health Trust told the BBC they sent letters to notify patients about their options to either use the semen or have it destroyed. But Shane said he never received any notification.
About 35 other men could be in the same predicament, according to the report.
"Our lives have been shattered. We've just been comforting each other... but this has changed our lives forever," Shane told the BBC.
Had the clinic not destroyed the 27-year-old sample, it's certainly possible it would have remained in usable condition to this day.
Shortly after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1987, British man Richard Pott decided to freeze his sperm.
Pott was 21-years-old at the time, but years later, when several rounds of IVF proved unsuccessful for he and wife Rebecca, the couple decided to use the frozen specimen to conceive their second child, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Soon after, baby Vivienne was born.
"We believe this is the longest that sperm has been frozen and used successfully in Britain," Dr. Tarek El-Toukhy of Guy's and St Thomas' hospital told the Telegraph.
Back stateside, at least one man has dedicated his life to helping couples facing similar situations.
Trent Arsenault, a 36-year-old virgin, donates his sperm to help childless couples become parents. So far, Arsenault has fathered 14 children.
"I've committed 100 percent of my sexual energy for producing sperm..." he told Anderson Cooper in January. "So I don't have other activity outside of that."
The Food and Drug Administration has accused Arsenault of allegedly not taking "the legally required precautions to prevent the spread of communicable diseases," but the computer security specialist says the demand for his sperm hasn't been hurt by the cease-and-desist order.
"The demand did go up. As far as I know no one ever ... was ever turned off by it that was mentioned to me," Arsenault told The Huffington Post in an live chat interview. "The FDA has their own reasons for issuing that order ... but I think woman and families can do a good job themselves of selecting who they want to be the biological father of their child."
For more on Shane Breen's story, visit the BBC for the full report.