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Woman conceives IVF baby using dead husband's sperm

19 July 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 267

A British woman is pregnant with her husband's child two years after he died from lung cancer. Diana Scott, who is 44 years old, was implanted with IVF embryos created using her late husband's sperm, which had been in frozen storage since before his death.

The couple had been trying to have a child naturally and, later, using fertility treatment, before Peter Scott was diagnosed with the cancer in 2001. They decided before he died that Diana would go on trying to have his child after his death, and samples of his sperm were stored before he began chemotherapy treatment. Diana underwent four failed courses of IVF and 'had all but given up hope' when, after the fifth attempt, she found out she was pregnant. 'I was delighted when I was told I had conceived', she said. She added that the baby girl she is expecting, due in October, will be 'a lifelong reminder' of her husband.

Because Peter Scott had given his consent to the storage and use of his sperm, Diana did not face the problems that Diane Blood did when she wanted to have her husband's child posthumously. Diane Blood was refused treatment in the UK because her husband was in a coma when his sperm was extracted and could not, therefore, voice his consent. In the end, Mrs Blood travelled to Belgium for treatment, and now has two sons. In September 2003, she finally succeeded in her five-year campaign to have her late husband's name registered as the father on her children's birth certificates.

In March 2003, parliament approved a proposal to amend the HFE (Human Fertilisation and Embryology) Act to recognise the biological fathers of all children conceived posthumously. In September 2003, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Deceased Fathers) Act was passed by the House of Lords and given Royal Assent - coming into force on 1 December 2003. Women, such as Diane Blood, who had already given birth to children conceived posthumously were given a six-month window to re-register the birth of their children. And Mrs Blood estimated that a further five families per year - like Diana Scott - would benefit from the change to the law.

Meanwhile, a court in Japan has ruled that a child born after IVF using a dead man's sperm is legally the man's child. The child was conceived after his father died of leukaemia, but when the child's mother tried to register the birth, the local government refused to allow it, on the grounds that the father had died more than 300 days before the birth date and the normal length of human gestation is about 270 days. The mother filed a lawsuit to have her son legally recognised as the child of his father. The first court ruled against her on the grounds of 'common sense' saying it was impossible to recognise the father-child relationship in such a case. Now, the Takamatsu High Court has overturned the lower court's ruling.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
IVF Child Conceived With Dead Man's Sperm is Ruled by Court to be His Child
Lifesite News |  15 July 2004
Our tiny miracle
Daily Express |  16 July 2004
Widow's joy at miracle IVF baby
BBC News Online |  16 July 2004
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