Widow has baby from frozen sperm

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The Independent Online
A 37 year old widow has given birth to a daughter, using sperm from her husband who died three years ago. The woman, who has not been named, was artifically inseminated with sperm donated by her husband after he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

The sperm was frozen and kept in storage until the man's wife decided to try for a baby. He had given written consent for it to be used, as is required by law.

A statement issued yesterday by the private Cromwell hospital in London, where the birth took place a few days ago, said the woman had been treated by the method of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), in which a single sperm is injected into the egg, after the traditional method of injecting sperm into the entrance of the womb had failed.

Controversy over using the sperm of a dead person for assisted conception hit the headlines last year, when Diane Blood was banned from having the treatment by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. She was refused the right to be made pregnant with the sperm of her late husband, Stephen, because she had not obtained his written permission when he was alive.

In February this year, Mrs Blood, 33, from Sheffield, won a High Court battle for the right to take Stephen's sperm to Brussels for treatment.

Another widow hoping for a baby is to travel to Florida for treatment next week, more than a year after the death of her husband on honeymoon. Sandra Reed, 28, is returning to the place where her husband, Danny, collapsed with a brain tumour at the age of 24. He was taken to a Tampa hospital which has pioneered the technique of extracting and freezing sperm from dying men.

A spokesman for the HFEA said of the latest case: "This illustrates the need for people to obtain informed written consent in these situations.

"We are delighted for this woman, who followed all the correct procedures. The HFEA still feel it's important that only the individual concerned can give consent for the use of their own genes to create a new life."

A Government review of the law regarding consent in assisted conception is expected to be published in the next few weeks, but it is unlikely to recommend changes to the current law.