'Let me keep my dead husband's sperm'

 
Beth and her husband Warren Beth and her husband Warren

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A woman has begun a legal bid to prevent her dead husband's frozen sperm from being destroyed.

Beth Warren, 28, has been told by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that the sperm cannot be stored beyond April 2015.

Her husband, Warren Brewer, a ski instructor, died of a brain tumour at the age of 32 in February 2012.

His sperm was stored before treatment, and he made it clear his wife should be allowed to use it posthumously.

Start Quote

I do not know what will happen in the future and I would like to have the choice left open to be able to have my husband's child as I know he would have wanted.”

End Quote Beth Warren

The couple, who were together for eight years, married in a hospice six weeks before his death. She subsequently changed her surname to Warren.

"I understand that it's a huge decision to have a child who will never meet their father, " said Mrs Warren, who lives in Birmingham.

"I cannot make that choice now and need more time to build my life back. I may never go ahead with treatment but I want to have the freedom to decide once I am no longer grieving.

"My brother died in a car accident just weeks before my husband's death, so there has been a huge amount to cope with."

Mrs Warren was initially told that her husband's last consent form lapsed in April 2013, but has subsequently been granted two brief extensions amounting to two years. The frozen sperm is stored at the CARE fertility clinic in Northampton.

Her lawyer, James Lawford Davies said the 2009 regulations created injustice.

"Common-sense dictates that she should be allowed time to recover from the loss of her husband and brother and not be forced into making such an important reproductive choice at this point in her life."

Mr Lawford Davies, whose firm is not charging Mrs Warren to represent her, said there were a number of inconsistencies about the regulations.

The sperm has to be used by April 2015, but if it was thawed and used to create embryos, these could be stored for a further seven years.

The time limit also means that Mrs Warren could use the sperm to create one child but not a second.

There is also no restriction on the sperm being exported, which would mean Mrs Warren could be treated abroad in the future, but not in the UK.

The case will be heard next year by a judge from the Family Division of the High Court.

Beth Warren: "I really just need more time to make a decision"

Options open

In her legal submission Mrs Warren said: "I am aware that I may decide not to use the stored samples in the event that I meet someone in the future and choose to have a family with him.

Regulations for storage of sperm and eggs in the UK

Patients about to undergo radiotherapy often have sperm or eggs (gametes) removed as the treatment can cause infertility.

Regulations which came into force in 2009 allow for gametes to be stored for up to 55 years provided that the person who provided the sperm or eggs renews their consent every ten years.

But patients who die are unable to renew their consent, setting a shorter time limit on storage.

"I do not know what will happen in the future, and I would like to have the choice left open to be able to have my husband's child - as I know he would have wanted."

In a statement the fertility regulator said: "The HFEA has every sympathy with Mrs Warren and the tragic circumstance in which she finds herself.

"We have been in discussions with Mrs Warren's solicitors for some time and each time new information has been presented to us, we have reconsidered the legal situation in as responsive a way as possible.

"However, the law on the storage of gametes is clear and the HFEA has no discretion to extend the storage period beyond that to which her husband gave written consent."

The case will renew the debate over the ethics of posthumous conception.

In 1997 Diane Blood won the right to conceive a child using sperm from her dead husband.

The Court of Appeal ruled against the HFEA and said that Mrs Blood should be allowed to seek treatment abroad.

But in that case the sperm had been removed when he was in a coma and without his written consent. Mrs Blood went on to have two sons after treatment in Belgium.

In this case Mr Brewer had his sperm stored prior to radiotherapy treatment in 2005, and in subsequent years signed several forms stating that his wife could use the samples.

 
Fergus Walsh, Medical correspondent Article written by Fergus Walsh Fergus Walsh Medical correspondent

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  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 121.

    Many kids have been born after their fathers died, its not unheard of, at least any potential child can be told about him.

    Unlike so many kids born after one night stands who haven't a clue, sometimes even the mothers don't know !

  • rate this
    -11

    Comment number 120.

    Whilst my sincere condolences go to the wife concerned, since her husband is no longer able to participate in the act of procreation, then hard lines. Stop wasting time and money on this sort of issue.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 119.

    There shouldnt really be an argument about this. If she wants to use the sperm of her late husband then so be it. You cant play the typical religious wildcard in this game!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 118.

    109.giovanna
    79. Tony "Every sperm is sacred"!
    So the reason little boys produce so much of it when no one is around is really a form of worship?

    Not a Monty Python fan then?

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 117.

    Why the hell is this open for comments?!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 116.

    Someone who chooses to have a baby from their dead husband's sperm isn't rebuilding their life, but continuing to look backwards. That said, I never knew my father as he died before I can remember, but I don't think it did me any harm.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 115.

    Difficult one to form an opinion on. The dead father to be gave his consent which as other have said should be permanent.

    On the other hand rules are there for a reason rightly or wrongly and must be followed before anarchy becomes commonplace.

    If she need to "sort her life out" one would think that if she hasn`t managed it before 2015 she probably never will

    The lawyers are doing it for free?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 114.

    Formula 1 Dragon - should not be allowed to play God.

    Sorry its science, God has clearly allowed humankind to develop this technology and perhaps we should embrace it. Could be akin to someone being kept alive on life support - is that playing God?

    Anyway strange that she chose her husbands forename rather than surname, hopefully the baby will be a Brewer (if she finally decides to have it).

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 113.

    Firstly my condolences to the wife, such a tragic loss for her. My immediate impression is that such an item wouldn't seem incongruous in someone's will.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 112.

    99.Grumpy
    Just now
    Who makes these ridiculous decisions? Common sense says the deceased man's consent should never expire
    ---------

    The rules are clear when you sign up for sperm storage. The woman knows this. She is just playing with the law as she is getting her lawyers for free. She is tryin to eat her cake and have it

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 111.

    First of all someone here commented that samples of sperm are stored 'on ice'. No, such samples are stored in liquid nitrogen.

    Regarding the matter maybe first there should be explored thoroughly how the child would feel and whether he or she would have happy childhood guaranteed. As opposed to wishes of adults and their prompt decisions.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 110.

    "There is also no restriction on the sperm being exported, which would mean Mrs Warren could be treated abroad in the future, but not in the UK."

    Problem solved. If she decides she's that certain on having a child from the stored jizz, I'm sure having the procedure abroad will be of little consequence.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 109.

    79. Tony "Every sperm is sacred"!

    So the reason little boys produce so much of it when no one is around is really a form of worship?
    That is quite a relief. No one ever went blind from worshipping the sacred.

  • rate this
    -130

    Comment number 108.

    Should not be allowed to play god. He is dead and so the sperm should be destroyed... Its simple in life we all think about me me me, when we do not care about others around us. Start helping each other and cut out the greed. then the world will be a better place.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 107.

    You'd have thought these wonderfully intelligent people who come up with the rules. Would've given some thought to what happens if someone dies and to have incorporated within the rules a clause which would allow for the surviving partner to be able to renew the contract. Ok not forever but say for 10 years. Thats plenty of time to decide what they want to do.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 106.

    Mrs Warren said: "I am aware that I may decide not to use the stored samples in the event that I meet someone in the future and choose to have a family with him.

    Talk about hedging your bets. How long does she plan to wait ? What about the feelings of Mr Brewers parents, who may want a grandchild ? She should've decided jointly with her husband before he passed away and acted accordingly.

  • rate this
    +26

    Comment number 105.

    95. modus
    This article is mistitled.
    It should read: "Please continue to pay thousands of pounds of taxpayer money after 2015 so I can have the luxury of indecision."
    --
    How do you work that out? CARE in Northampton aren't NHS & keeping cells frozen in liquid nitrogen costs pennies once you actually freeze them.

    Plus I suspect Beth and Warren Brewer paid tax too.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 104.

    The sperm belongs to her and as long as she is prepared to pay for it's upkeep she can keep

  • rate this
    +20

    Comment number 103.

    A case of a woman who wants to control everything in her life exactly the way she wants it. What about compromise? She obviously went through a bad time losing her husband, and I have every sympathy.

    But why can't she adjust? Her decision should be based on the time limit on the sperm storage (i.e. just bloody well get on with it), and not because she wants to keep all her options open.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 102.

    It's a tough one. I don't think the sample should be destroyed, and I would understand why she would want her child to be her husbands. It just seems a strange decision to deliberately choose to raise the child with no chance to ever know their father.

    Her choice though.

 

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