For the following three years, their four parents fought an intense legal battle for custody of the four fertilised eggs left by their late children.
A baby boy was born to a surrogate mother in China four years after his biological parents died in a vehicle crash, local news outlets reported on Tuesday (Apr 10).
The little boy - named Tiantian - which means sweetness - is the biological child of Shen Jie and Liu Xi, a couple from Yixing, East China's Jiangsu province, who died in an accident in March 2013.
At the time of the accident, the embryos were stored safely in a Nanjing hospital, frozen at minus 196 degrees in a liquid nitrogen tank.
The newspaper explained how the lack of precedent for a case of this kind had forced the deceased couple's parents through a legal minefield before the surrogacy could proceed.
After several court battles, both sets of parents won custody of the embryo in January of 2017 and with the help of an underground surrogacy agency, they found a surrogate mother. The eggs were only allowed to be transferred from the Nanjing hospital if another hospital agreed to store them, but with surrogacy being against the law in China, finding an institution to facilitate proved hard. Baby Tiantian was born in December 2017, four years after his parents died in a vehicle crash in Jiangsu.
The baby was born after lengthy legal proceedings involving his four grandparents. Source Getty file
The new grandparents have not yet decided how they will tell Tiantian about his background.
As no airline was willing to accept a thermos-sized bottle of liquid nitrogen, the precious cargo had to be transported by auto.
The parents of the couple also had to find a surrogate overseas, as surrogacy remains illegal in China.
The child's paternal grandfather Shen Xinan told The Beijing News that until he is older and able to understand the situation, they will tell Tiantian that his parents are overseas.
"We will definitely tell him in the future - how can we not?"