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US soldier's widow takes sperm after his death

14 April 2008
Appeared in BioNews 435

The widow of a US soldier killed in Iraq has had her husband's sperm frozen in the hope of conceiving his children. Sergeant Dayne Darren Dhanoola, 26, and his wife Kynesha were allegedly going to start trying for children when he returned, but Sergeant Dhanoola was killed on 31 March when his vehicle was blown up by insurgents in Baghdad.

On 4 April, a judge in Columbus, Georgia, granted a temporary restraining order to stop the US army beginning the embalming process so that Ms Dhanoola could have his sperm extracted later that day.

The widow hopes to be artificially inseminated this summer, but there are fears that the sperm will not be viable, as they were taken four days after Sergeant Dhanoola's death. US fertility expert Dr John Park from Emory University School of Medicine said that viable sperm have been successfully retrieved 36 hours after death, but these sperm were 'highly unlikely' to be functional. He explained that sperm begin to lose mobility and function three hours after the man's death.

The extraction procedure was delayed as the soldier died without a will, and before he left for Iraq had signed a form giving his mother, Monica Brown, the authority to handle his remains upon his death. Ms Brown, however, initially refused to give her consent to the sperm-removal procedure.

Yvonne Watkins, the widow's mother, said that both sides of the family finally reached common ground. 'We're trying to honour my daughter and Darren's wishes', she said. 'All of his comrades and anyone who knew them knew he wanted children'.

The first baby born as a result of sperm taken posthumously was successfully delivered in Los Angeles, US in 1999. Gaby Vernoff became pregnant using sperm that had been taken from her husband Bruce, 30 hours after his unexpected death in 1995. Due to the untimely nature of Mr Vernoff's death, no formal consent was obtained, but Mrs Vernoff had a video of her husband expressing his desire to have children.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Soldier's widow has sperm taken from corpse
The Telegraph |  9 April 2008
Soldier's Widow Wants Baby From Husband's Sperm
All Headline News |  9 April 2008
US soldier's sperm frozen days after Iraq death'
The Daily Telegraph |  8 April 2008
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