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Paralyzed man beats the odds and welcomes miracle baby: ‘I kind of had to pinch myself’

<i></i><br/>After such a challenging fertility journey

After such a challenging fertility journey

By Denise Dador

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    LOS ANGELES (KABC) — A paralyzed man defied the odds and welcomed a baby many doctors told him he could never have.

After such a challenging fertility journey, Anthony Purcell, who suffered a spinal cord injury, is looking forward to his first Father’s Day. Then when little Payton grows up, her dad will have quite a story to tell.

“Obviously, she’ll know that she’s a miracle baby,” said the proud father.

Purcell thought becoming a father would be impossible after he suffered a devastating accident in South Beach, Florida in 2010.

“I ended up diving into a sandbar, which left me paralyzed,” Purcell said. The dive broke his neck.

“I barely made it, and when I did, I started rehabbing as much as I could to get better,” he said.

However, dark days would follow.

Purcell had even considered suicide, but with the help of his family, he found a purpose in helping others with spinal cord injuries.

“My mother and I started a foundation called ‘Walking with Anthony,’ where we help individuals with rehab. We’ve given cars away. We’ve helped people remodel their houses to make it wheelchair accessible,” said Purcell.

So far, his foundation has helped more than 100 patients restart their lives.

Purcell was making a new start himself. He married his high school classmate, Karen, but the couple’s future hopes did not include parenthood.

“Reproductive wise, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to have a kid,” he said.

That wasn’t until he met Dr. Jesse Mills, director of Male Reproductive Medicine at UCLA Health.

“There’s no other reason why a man with a spinal cord injury cannot be a biological father as long as we’re able to retrieve sperm successfully,” Mills said.

Mills specializes in surgical sperm retrieval, a technique that allowed the Purcells to undergo successful in vitro fertilization.

Mills said many of his spinal cord injury patients, like Purcell, were told they could never be dads.

“Find the right team. Don’t take no for an answer. You will find someone, somewhere that can help you achieve those goals,” said Mills.

Purcell said his first Father’s Day with 3-month-old Payton will feel like a dream, too good to be true.

“I kind of had to pinch myself and say, ‘Wait, hold on. You’re a father now, too.’ So it’s going to be a good time,” Purcell said.

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