Although it is possible for women with cystic fibrosis to conceive, pregnancy can be risky, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Bec Arena and her husband, Gareth, dreamed of having children, but because Bec suffered from cystic fibrosis, they had trouble getting pregnant.

As Australia’s News.com reports, the couple turned to longtime friends, Jessica and her husband, New Zealand national football team player, Jeremy Brockie, for help. Jessica would become a surrogate for the couple:

Bec and Gareth shared the news on Facebook, explaining that cystic fibrosis had made the road to parenthood “difficult” and “tumultuous” but that they were overjoyed to be welcoming a baby in six months’ time.

Bec captioned the post, in part:

We are so fortunate to have Jes and her family helping us along this road — who would have thought all those years ago in primary school that this is where we would be now! Jes has been a friend for 20+ years and is now also the surrogate carrying and protecting our mini Gaz/Bec.

She continued, “Gareth and I can’t even find words to adequately describe how grateful we are to Jes, Jeremy & their kids for going on this journey with us.”

Sadly, less than two months after the couple announced they were expecting, Bec passed away. The mother-to-be was just 30 years old, Now to Love wrote.

According to a post on GoFundMe, the loss was compounded by the fact she was expecting her first child:

Bec was an animal lover, a wife, a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a cousin, a niece, an aunty, a best friend, a friend, a cystic fibrosis FIGHTER, an inspiration to all and a mother to her and her husband Gareth’s much longed for baby boy… It’s this last part of who Bec was that has made losing her so much harder to comprehend and which has left Gareth in a position he never thought he would be in — facing life as a parent to their newborn son without his beautiful wife at his side.

Four months after Bec’s passing, Gareth welcomed their son, Rixon James Arena, on January 20, 2018.

As GoFundMe explains, the challenges of facing parenthood alone weren’t ones Gareth was expecting:

Gareth hadn’t planned to be off work to care for their son. It was to be Bec’s role to take time off work to be a stay at home Mum and his to be a working Dad supporting his family.

Gareth has shared his journey as a continuation of his wife’s campaign to help raise awareness for cystic fibrosis.

Instagram/one_breath_at_a_time

According to Now to Love, in an interview with “The Project” about the unique situation of surrogacy and fatherhood having lost his wife, Gareth said: “I will raise our son in a way that would make [her] proud.”

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disorder affecting the cells of the body that produce mucus, sweat, and digestive juices, causing the fluids to become so thick and sticky that they block tubes, ducts, and passageways, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system, and other organs of the body. There is no cure for the disorder.

one_breath_at_a_time/Instagram

On average, people with cystic fibrosis live into their 30s, although some may live into their 40s and 50s. Almost all men with cystic fibrosis are infertile, and women with the disorder may be less fertile.

According to the Boomer Esiason Foundation, in the United States, approximately 30,000 people suffer from cystic fibrosis.

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