59-Year-Old Woman Fights To Be Implanted With Her Dead Daughter's Eggs

| by Jared Keever
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A British woman is mounting a legal fight to earn the right to become pregnant and give birth to her own grandchild, using her dead daughter’s eggs.

The Daily Mail reports the 59-year-old woman, who has not been named, is fighting in court to have her daughter’s eggs transported to New York where a clinic has agreed to provide fertility treatment for her. 

No clinic in the United Kingdom has agreed to treat the woman.

The woman and her 58-year-old husband claim it was their daughter’s dying wish that her mom “carry her babies.”

She wants to have the eggs fertilized with a donor’s sperm.

Their daughter, who suffered from bowel cancer in her 20s, had a number of her eggs frozen in the hopes that she could have babies after receiving treatments and recovering from the disease, but succumbed to the cancer about four years ago. 

The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority, or HFEA, which oversees fertility treatments in Britain, blocked the transport of the eggs because the daughter did not give express consent, before she died, to have the eggs exported.

According to the HFEA website, the authority does not typically have a problem with relatives donating eggs to other relatives and usually only intervenes if patients request to mix sperm and eggs of close relatives. 

But doctors who spoke with the Daily Mail said the procedure could have complications when undergone by a woman who is almost 60 and that her chances of actually becoming and staying pregnant are quite small. 

Dr. Mohammed Taranissi who runs a fertility clinic in London said the woman’s case is extremely rare.

“I have never heard of a surrogacy case involving a mother and her dead daughter’s eggs. It’s fair to say that this may be a world first,” Taranissi said.

Others said there were still ethical concerns.

Josephine Quintavalle, from campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said he understood that the mother was likely distraught over having lost her daughter, but that it would be “impossible not to feel very uncomfortable” if the woman were allowed to go ahead with the procedure. 

According to minutes from a hearing held by the HFEA’s Statutory Approvals Committee on the matter, the daughter signed a consent form allowing her eggs to be stored for use after her death but failed to sign another document detailing the specific uses. That renders the consent invalid, the HFEA ruled.

The potential grandparents now plan to challenge that ruling in court. 

The minutes from the hearing indicate the dead woman’s parents claim that she consulted with a doctor shortly before her death. That doctor told her that it would be possible for her mother to carry the young woman’s fertilized eggs. 

The minutes, obtained by the Daily Mail, indicate the young woman said after that consultation that she wanted her mother to “carry her babies… in the context of her not expecting to leave hospital alive.”

Sources: Daily Mail, HFEA

Photo Credit: rumpleteaser/Flickr, WikiCommons