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Woman launches legal fight for comatose fiancé's sperm

20 January 2014
Appeared in BioNews 738

The partner of a man left in a coma after suffering a series of heart attacks is to take her request to obtain and store his sperm to the High Court.

The woman initially obtained an order to allow retrieval of his sperm in an emergency application on Christmas Eve, pending the outcome of her legal challenge against a decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that meant the sperm could not be retrieved for future use. However, another judge later ruled that the emergency order was legally flawed, reports The Independent, and should not have been granted.

The HFEA reportedly informed the woman's lawyers that the hospital was not licensed to store gametes and following this, it is not possible to harvest gametes when they cannot be lawfully stored. A special licence to store the sperm for future use could only be considered if the man had provided prior consent.

The couple got engaged last year after several years in a relationship. The women claims they had 'extensive' discussions about raising a family and said that he would have provided written consent to use his sperm if he had known he would be in his current state.

The man is at risk of dying at any time and at one stage a 'do not resuscitate' order was issued. His condition is said to have stabilised since then but remains serious.

Richard Alomo, the woman's counsel, said 'There is clearly a public interest in having this issue settled once and for all. She wants to obtain a decision she genuinely and sincerely believes her partner would want'.

The woman's legal challenge is now due to be heard over two days in February. The case will be heard initially by the judge sitting as the Court of Protection, since the man currently lacks capacity, before the arguments against the HFEA are made.

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