A South African couple have been blessed to become fathers to, not one, not two but three children after their surrogate gave birth to triplets.

The couple met their surrogate during the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, having been his neighbour.

The two men, Theo and Christo Menelaou, are the biological parents of the children, having fathered one egg each.

After being fertilised, one of the eggs then split into identical twins.

For the past month, the three babies have been fighting for their lives. The triplets – Joshua, Zoe and Kate – were born 9 weeks early: at the time, none of them weighed more than two pounds (1.8kg). Kate, the lightest, weighed only 2.9lbs (1.3kg).

The couple had been advised at the beginning of the pregnancy to terminate two of them to give the third the best chance, but they refused.

After they were born in early July the babies were immediately put on breathing apparatus.

A month on they were gradually released from hospital over late July and early August.

The new dads have said they have to ‘tickle’ their feet to remind them to take a breath every so often.

The two men were friends of Oscar Pistorius, the Olympic athlete, who this year was convicted of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

They explained to Sky News how, when the trial started in March 2014, the community came together in consolation. That’s how they met their surrogate.

Despite the difficult month they’ve had, the men are just glad to be parents.

“It’s very hard to be accepted for adoption and we were told we would always come after heterosexual couples,” they said.

“And then we just never thought we’d ever find a person who would want to be surrogate to a gay couple.”

Christo told ABC News: “It’s the biggest joy having [these] babies. Hard work, but so rewarding.”

Babies genetically related to two same sex parents could be a reality in as little as two years.

Researchers from Cambridge University found it was possible to make human egg and sperm cells from stem cells.

In theory the egg cell could come from one parent, and the sperm cell from the other. It may then be possible for same sex parents to both be related to their children.

Having children, either through adoption or surrogacy, is difficult for same-sex couples and LGBT single parents around the world.

In the UK, IVF treatments that eliminate defects in the mitochondria in a mother’s eggs with another woman’s mitochondria have been legalised. This means it’s possible for a child to have three biological parents: one father, and two mothers.

Parenting rights campaign group Fathers 4 Justice described surrogacy for gay couples as “prostitution” and “child abuse“.

The same group targeted Elton John, father of two and married to David Furnish, for ‘denying kids the love of a mother.’

In July a gay couple were accused of lying about how much they paid three women to bear their children, even though it is illegal to pay for surrogacy in the UK, where the men live. They were allowed to keep the children after being considered “excellent parents”.