Tuesday, May 21, 2019
21-year-old Peter Zhu died in February after suffering injuries from a skiing accident while attending West Point Academy. His parents received court permission to have his sperm retrieved and frozen at the same time he underwent organ donation surgery. It was stored at sperm bank. Last week, a judge finally ruled that Zhu's parents are allowed to use the sperm for reproduction.
Justice Colangelo said he found no restrictions in state or federal law. Few courts have ruled on the issue of posthumous reproduction, and usually it has been based upon the decedent's intent. “At this time, the court will place no restrictions on the use to which Peter’s parents may ultimately put their son’s sperm, including its potential use for procreative purposes,” Colangelo wrote. Last year, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued ethical guidelines for fertility centers on posthumous collection of reproductive tissue. The organization said it is justifiable if authorized in writing by the deceased and should only consider requests from the surviving spouse or partner.
Typically, court cases involving posthumous reproduction are filed by surviving spouses, not parents. there have been a few other cases that did not involve the decedent's spouse, however. In 2007, a court in Iowa authorized recovery of a man’s sperm by his parents to donate to his fiancé for future procreative use. In 2009, a Texas woman got a judge’s permission to have her 21-year-old son’s sperm extracted after his death, with the intention of hiring a surrogate mother to bear her a grandchild.
See Associated Press, Judge says Parents can use Frozen Sperm of Their Deceased West Point Cadet Son, Fox News, May 20, 2019.