February 26, 2010
Mother Seeks Surrogate to Give Birth to Child Created From Dead Son's Sperm
A Texas mother is seeking an egg donor and/or surrogate to give birth to a baby using the sperm of her son, whose sperm was extracted after he died from a gunshot wound last year.
But now his mother is hoping for a legacy -- a grandchild culled from her son's sperm after his death on April 5, 2009. She has heard from hundreds of women who have offered to be egg donors or surrogate mothers for her future grandchild.
Advances in the fertility industry have allowed wives, fiances, girlfriends and even parents to seek post-mortem sperm retrieval when a man dies unexpectedly.
The first report of post-mortem sperm retrieval was in 1980 involving the case of a 30-year-old man who became brain dead after a car accident, according the journal "Human Reproduction."
A birth was first reported in 1999, but since then more than 1,000 such requests are made each year. Most do not result in pregnancy attempts.
"Often parents change their minds," said Dr. Daniel Williams, assistant professor of urology at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In post-mortem sperm retrieval, sperm is surgically removed from the testes, epididymus and vas deferens then preserved in nitrogen vapor.
Frozen, it can be kept indefinitely, with "no obvious risk to offspring," according to Williams.
The science is easy, say medical experts, but the ethics are not so clear.
"It's an area that is steeped in ethical issues, emotional issues and financial issues," he told ABCNews.com. "These issues can become very challenging because there are no guidelines or laws or rules on how to handle the requests. Often they are handled on a case-by-case basis."
Many doctors suggest that parents like Evans, who are still grieving for a lost child, should have a "quarantine period" as they heal to consider all the ramifications of having a baby from sperm retrieval, including the welfare of the unborn child.
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