Diane Blood tells of joy at dead husband's child

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The Independent Online
DIANE BLOOD yesterday spoke of her joy at being pregnant following artificial insemination with her dead husband's sperm.

She called an impromptu news conference at a pub near her home in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, where she said she was "over the moon" at the long-awaited news. But she refused to reveal when the baby was due or where it was conceived.

Mrs Blood, 33, was supported by the family of Stephen Blood, her husband who died three years ago after contracting meningitis and falling into a coma. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) had blocked Mrs Blood's attempts to have a baby using sperm taken from her husband while he was in a coma, on the grounds that he had not given written consent.

Mrs Blood, a marketing executive, said yesterday that she was still nervous because her pregnancy was in an early stage with the baby due in the "new year". She added that her long legal battle had been "an experience" which she would rather not have had.

She said she did not mind whether whether the child was a boy or a girl. "It is still very, very early days and all this [media attention] has taken us somewhat by surprise. I had not wanted the news to get out at this stage. The news did not leak from our camp as only my immediate family knew," she said.

"It is a great feeling. But we were trying to start a family before my husband died and however it had happened, when I found out I was pregnant it was going to be a great feeling."

"I am just praying that it goes well and that next year I will give birth to a healthy baby," she said.

Asked about the ethical debate surrounding her case, Mrs Blood said: "I would be naive if I believed it would ever go away completely, but I think everything which can be said was said during the court case. I do not have anything to add at this point."

However, there were concerns raised yesterday over the pregnancy which set off a fresh ethical argument about dead people being used as the parents of children. Richard Holloway, Bishop of Edinburgh and a member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, said that he wished mother and baby well but added that the case raised "complex" issues relating to the posthumous parenting of children.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 yesterday, the bishop compared the situation of Mrs Blood, who won the right to be fertilised with her dead husband's sperm only after a prolonged legal fight, to that of war widows whose soldier fathers left for the front before their children were born and never returned.

Similar concerns almost certainly explain the nine-month delay that the Belgian fertility clinic, which carried out the insemination, imposed on Mrs Blood before accepting her for treatment. Doctors at the Centre for Reproductive Medicine at Brussels Free University will have wanted to ensure, as far as possible, that Mrs Blood's desire for her dead husband's baby was not a grief reaction to his death.

Mrs Blood was referred to the Belgian clinic by her doctor in Britain after the HFEA ruled that sperm taken from her husband while he lay in a coma before he died from meningitis in 1995 had been removed without written consent and it would be against the law for her to use it for treatment in Britain. When she applied to export the frozen sperm to Belgium the authority at first refused but in February 1997 it relented after the intervention of the Court of Appeal.

The case provoked widespread criticism of the HFEA and the previous Tory government ordered a review of the law. However, a consultation document issued last year said that changing the law would be more difficult than most people realised.

Ministers are due to receive recommendations soon, following the consultation process.

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