A wealthy British couple saved sperm from their son days after he was killed in a motorcycle crash, creating a “designer” grandson to serve as heir and setting off an ethical controversy.
The incident was recounted by the Daily Mail, which noted that the couple had to bypass strict laws in the U.K. to have their grandchild in the United States by using donor eggs and a surrogate. The couple reportedly used “gender selection techniques” to make sure they had a grandson who could be the heir to their fortune.
The doctor who oversaw the case is world-renowned fertility specialist Dr. David Smotrich, the report noted, and he said that the circumstances around the case were very unusual. The son had not given formal consent to having his sperm extracted, and legal experts said the grandparents may have committed a criminal act, the Daily Mail reported.
Even the circumstances around the son’s death were unusual. He died after crashing his motorcycle and his body was undiscovered for two days. That left only a short time period where his parents could harvest his sperm, which can live up to 72 hours after a person dies.
“Producing a child using posthumous sperm is exceedingly rare. I have done it only five times,” Smotrich said. “This couple were desperate to find someone who would be able to create an heir. They wanted a boy.”
The case has generated quite a bit of attention and debate over whether it is appropriate for the couple to create a grandson without the expressed consent of their son before his death.
The ethics of in-vitro fertilization — especially in cases where there is no clear consent from one of the parties involved — has been a growing debate in the medical world. As Helathline noted, some of that controversy came to the forefront this year when model Chrissy Teigen admitted that she and singer husband John Legend selected the gender of their baby using in-vitro fertilization.
“Some people are also concerned that nonmedical use of IVF for sex selection may tie up medical resources and prevent couples with infertility from getting the help they need,” the report noted. “This may not be an issue in the United States where IVF sex selection is not that common. However, it could cause problems in countries with more limited resources and a high demand for sex selection.”
This is wild. Even the fertility specialist who helped them “understood the couple's son – who was unmarried – had not given formal consent to the extraction and use of his sperm in the event of his death.” https://t.co/X9IFZt026Z— Basia Cummings (@basialcummings) September 9, 2018
The grandson created from his dead father’s sperm is now 3-years-old and living with his grandparents in the U.K.