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Woman uses dead son's sperm for IVF grandchildren

19 February 2018
Appeared in BioNews 938

A woman in India has used the frozen sperm of her dead son in order to have grandchildren via a surrogate.

Prathamesh Patil died from a brain tumour in 2016 but made the decision to preserve his sperm before undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy procedures. Mr Patil was unmarried, so he authorised his mother and his sister to use it in the event of his death.

His mother, Rajashree Patil, procured the sperm following his death and doctors at Pune's Sahyadri Hospital used it to fertilise eggs from an anonymous donor. The resultant embryos were implanted into Mrs Patil's cousin, who acted as surrogate after it was deemed that she was not medically fit to carry the baby herself. The twin babies – a boy called Prathmesh and a girl called Preesha – were born on February 12. Mrs Patil intends to raise the twins as her own children.

Mr Patil was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 whilst he was in Germany studying for a master's degree in engineering. Mrs Patel described her son as the 'ideal man'.

'He was a bright student and excelled in academics. Even when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and later lost his vision after the chemotherapy, he did not lose spirit. He fought valiantly until the last breath. He always tried to regale us with his stories and humour. That's why, when we lost him, I wanted to have grandchildren using the cryopreserved semen.' 

Dr Supriya Puranik, the head of the IVF department in Sahyadri Hospital, said that Mrs Patil's case was unique compared to other women delivering babies through assisted conception.

'Being an IVF specialist, I am happy that science and new technologies are adding cheerful moments in people's lives… But here, in this case, it was about a grief-stricken mother whose son was away for studies when he faced health issues,' Dr Puranik noted.

Whilst it is a heart-warming story, many are concerned about the ethics of such a procedure. Hari Ramasubramanian, founder of the Indian Surrogacy Law Centre, described the ethical issues in the case: 'There are four issues here. First, did the son give consent that his semen be used for procreation after his death? Second, how are the grandparents going to secure the future of the newborns in all aspects of life and living? Third, while a person has the right to become a parent, the right to become grandparents is completely outside the ambit of fundamental rights. Fourth, and most importantly, what about the rights of the child to have normal parenting?'

Ramasubramanian also noted that there is currently no specific legislation governing this area of reproduction, as India's Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2016 is still pending.

Indian woman becomes grandmother with dead son's preserved semen
Dhaka Tribune |  16 February 2018
Meet Rajashree Patil: Lost her unmarried son due to cancer two years ago, blessed with his twins now
Financial Express |  15 February 2018
Using late son's preserved semen, couple gets twin grandkids through IVF, surrogacy
Times of India |  15 February 2018
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