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Baby born from sperm collected 48 hours after father died

20 April 2015
Appeared in BioNews 798

A baby boy has been born using sperm collected 48 hours after his fathers' death. The healthy child was conceived through IVF after a lengthy legal process in Australia, following the death of his father in a motorcycle accident in 2011.

The birth represents a technical and legal landmark in Australian assisted reproductive technology. The previous record for successful sperm harvesting from a deceased man was 30 hours, reports the Sydney Morning Herald, giving doctors significant concern about the quality of the sperm.

Professor Kelton Tremellen, who collected the sperm, said he initially had worries about the ethical and legal aspects of treatment: 'One reason was that I thought it was going to be a waste of time, and the other was I didn't know if it was the right thing to do.'

The use of sperm obtained posthumously is currently not permitted in Adelaide, where the mother is from, leading her to take the case to the Supreme Court of South Australia. After obtaining permission to use the sperm, further delays were caused by the mother having to travel to Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory, where there is no legislative bar to posthumous assisted reproduction (see BioNews 736).

Professor Tremellen added: 'In the end I decided I would do it because I felt it wasn't a battle she should have to fight at that point when she had just lost her husband.'

The case was decided in the woman's favour without written consent from the deceased father because she was able to prove to the court that the couple had been planning to start a family prior to his death.

And, while the case has proved controversial, Professor Tremellen is of the opinion that there is good reason to allow treatment without written consent.

'The reality is that the vast majority of young men don't consider that they are going to die, and certainly not that their sperm might be used by their widows, so it's unreasonable to say it can't go ahead without written consent,' he said.

'If the woman is making a sound decision and can look after the child and has support from her family, I really don't think society or the law should get in the way.'

23 July 2018 - by Dr Alexander Ware 
A UK judge has granted permission for a woman to have her dying husband's sperm harvested, to use in an attempt to conceive following his death...
4 July 2016 - by Emma Nottingham 
The case of Samantha Jeffries - a widow who is trying to save the embryos she created with her husband before his death - holds lessons both for fertility clinics and for the HFEA...
20 June 2016 - by Chee Hoe Low 
The parents of a dead Australian man whose sperm has been cryopreserved have said that they will block any attempts by his fiancée to use his sperm in an IVF attempt...
20 July 2015 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A woman in New South Wales, Australia, has been given permission to extract sperm from her unconscious, dying husband...
29 June 2015 - by Dr Julia Hill 
An Illinois appeals court has reaffirmed a decision to grant a woman 'custody and control' of frozen embryos created with the sperm of her ex-boyfriend, despite his objections...
6 January 2014 - by Nishat Hyder 
The South Australian Supreme Court has granted a woman permission to use her deceased husband's sperm for IVF treatment....
9 December 2013 - by María Victoria Rivas Llanos 
A woman is seeking an extension in the storage of her late husband's sperm at the UK's High Court...
17 June 2013 - by Hila Rimon-Greenspan and Vardit Ravitsky 
The permissive approach of the Israeli courts to allow posthumous conception is ethically justified and even commendable. By choosing 'a sperm with a past', a woman guarantees her prospective child a known genetic origin, as well as an opportunity to benefit from the love and the support of grandparents and an extended family...
12 November 2012 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
A recent battle by the parents of a teenager who was critically injured in a car accident to obtain and store his sperm for future use has ended following his death last week...
31 May 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts 
A widow has been granted possession of her late husband's sperm in an 'exceptional' Australian court ruling last week...
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