Court Authorises Storage and Use of Dying Patient’s Sperm in IVF Treatment

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Judges are always on call to deal with the consequences of family tragedy at short notice so, if you need emergency help, you should contact a lawyer straight away. In one case on point, the High Court authorised the extraction and use of a dying man’s sperm so that it could be used to achieve his wish to father a second child.

The man, aged in his 40s, had suffered catastrophic brain injuries in a road accident and doctors were unanimous in their views that he would not regain consciousness. Brainstem testing was proposed and, if no brain activity was identified, he would be pronounced dead and taken off life support for organ donation.

He and his wife had a son but had been anxious to have another child so that the boy would have a brother or sister. After natural conception proved impossible, they attended a fertility clinic and began preparatory steps towards undergoing IVF treatment before tragedy intervened.

The wife said that, after she and the man discussed the matter, he was in complete agreement that, if he died, she should proceed with IVF treatment for the sake of their son. She testified that it was extremely important to her that the man’s death should not be in vain and that, if she were prevented from conceiving another child using his sperm, she would be left with an irreplaceable hole in her life.

In ruling on the matter, the Court accepted the wife’s evidence and found that, prior to the accident, the couple had a settled intention to have another child. The man had orally agreed to the posthumous use of his sperm for that purpose. The Court authorised the retrieval of his sperm prior to his expected death, together with its storage and use in the proposed IVF treatment.