Family drops efforts to harvest and freeze eggs of dead girl

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The Independent Online

Days after an Israeli court made a landmark ruling allowing the family of a deceased 17-year-old girl to harvest and freeze the eggs from her ovaries, the family has apparently bowed to domestic pressure to drop efforts to push ahead with the procedure.

The family of Chen Aida Ayish, who was gravely injured in a car crash 10 days ago, had appealed to the court to extract her eggs after doctors declared her brain dead, Israeli media had reported. The court's ruling was unprecedented in Israel, and possibly globally, but immediately sparked a backlash from religiously conservative communities in Israel, a source familiar with the case said yesterday, prompting the family not to take the case any further.

Ms Ayish, 17, fell into a coma after she was hit by a car 10 days ago. Doctors at the Kfar Saba hospital pronounced her brain dead last Wednesday, and her parents decided to donate her organs, and probe the possibility of harvesting her eggs.

The family had initially asked medical staff to fertilise the eggs with donated sperm, giving the eggs a better chance of survival, but the court refused, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. Despite the Ayish family's change of heart, the case will be viewed as an important legal advance for families seeking continuity from their deceased partners and children.

"It's revolutionary ... It's great that people have a chance to decide," said Irit Rosenblum, a lawyer who founded New Family, an organisation advancing family rights.

In line with rulings in Britain and elsewhere, the courts have allowed the use of sperm from deceased males but the permission has not applied to women, where the harvesting of eggs involves a more complicated procedure. There has been at least one case in Israel where the husband of a woman who died from cancer won legal permission to use the embryos of his late wife, created during efforts to conceive through IVF. He now has a child.

Cases where families have sought to use the sperm of dead males are more common, though. Earlier this year, the parents of an Israeli man killed in an accident sought legal permission to use his frozen sperm. The case was unusual, because according to a 2003 ruling by Israel's attorney general, only a wife or girlfriend could use the sperm of a dead man.