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Parents to fight access to dead son's sperm

20 June 2016
Appeared in BioNews 856

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.

Tony Deane died unexpectedly in April 2016 in the Toowoomba Hospital in southern Queensland. His fiancée, Leith Patteson, had already successfully obtained permission from an Australian court to have Deane's testes and sperm removed and stored at a fertility clinic.

To use the sperm, however, Patteson will need to apply for the Court's permission again, and Deane's parents have expressed their intention to oppose to any such application by Patteson.

Justice Martin Burns of the Supreme Court of Queensland heard Patteson's original application, which was made urgently because of the need to extract and preserve Deane's testes and sperm within 24 hours of his death. He heard evidence from Patteson's friends that the couple were engaged a month after they met, and were anxious to have a child together.

Allowing the application, Burns commented that the order would 'permit mature reflection by Ms Patteson whether to proceed with the use of any extracted material', and that any further applications made by Patteson 'will not be rendered futile through loss of viability of the sperm'. However, Burns also made it clear that doubt remained as to whether the Court had the authority to permit the use of Deane's sperm, and that such a question should be considered if Patteson made such an application.

Bill Munro, the lawyer representing Deane's parents, said that his clients were surprised by Patteson's application.

'My client was only aware of the fact that the application was being made within a few hours prior to the courts actually being convened to hear the decision,' Munro told ABC News. 'There was very little time for anyone to consider their position at all.'

Munro did not oppose to Patteson's application. However, in the absence of more information on Patteson's relationship with their late son, Deane's parents intend to oppose any further applications for use of the sperm in IVF, Munro said.

'They don't know his girlfriend. It's as simple as that,' Munro said. 'There was very short-term relationship between the applicant and their son, something like seven months. It started in September and he died in April.'

Munro also said that his clients 'don't have all the evidence', and their position may change if more was provided.

Patteson has yet to make any applications to the court to use the sperm. Her lawyers told ABC News that it was inappropriate to comment further on their client's position.

24 October 2016 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
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13 June 2016 - by James Brooks 
A Spanish woman has been allowed to have her dead husband's cryopreserved sperm transported from France to Spain despite a French ban on the exportation of gametes for posthumous insemination...
29 February 2016 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A woman who is in a legal bid to use her deceased daughter's eggs has been given permission to take her case to the Court of Appeal...
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...
20 April 2015 - by Simon Hazelwood-Smith 
A baby boy has been born using sperm collected 48 hours after the fathers' death. The healthy child was conceived through IVF after a lengthy legal process in Australia, following the death of the father in a motorcycle accident in 2011....
10 March 2014 - by Chee Hoe Low 
A widow has won a legal battle to keep her late husband's sperm preserved for future use...
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