British couple create 'designer grandson' after using sperm from their son's dead body
Bypassing strict UK laws the couple exported the sperm to the US, where they chose to go for gender selection technique to develop a male heir.
There's nothing that money can't buy - even a designer grandson! For those clueless about what the term could possibly mean, get this: a wealthy British couple has created a male heir - aka the 'designer grandson' - using sperm from their dead son. Taking the extraordinary decision to freeze the sperm of their only child, who was killed in a motorcycle crash, these parents bypassed strict UK laws and exported the sperm to the US. There, the couple - who are both in their 50s - chose to go for gender selection technique to develop a male heir, who was born using donor eggs and a surrogate.
The said grandson is now three and lives with his grandparents in the UK. While it is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, it is also believed to raise huge ethical concerns. Even the doctor involved has admitted how unusual the case is, reports Daily Mail Online. This is largely because he knows that the couple's deceased son, was unmarried, and had never given consent to the extraction and/or use of his sperm in the event of his death. As per legal experts, those involved in this from the UK, have committed a crime and could even face prosecution.
Said doctor, world-leading fertility specialist, Dr. David Smotrich, helped the couple at his La Jolla IVF clinic in California, reports the outlet. He told them: "The English couple lost their son under the most tragic of circumstances. They desperately wanted an heir and a grandchild. It was a privilege to be able to help them."
The extraordinary journey began when the couple's son died at the age of 26 in the crash, which happened four years ago. Dr. Smotrich describes him as extremely rich 'and from a notable family.' His boy lay undiscovered for two days but once he was found, his sperm - which can survive up to 72 hours post death - was retrieved and immediately frozen. After a year, it was flown to Dr. Smotrich's clinic using a UK-based specialist medical courier.
The doctor said: "Producing a child using posthumous sperm is exceedingly rare. I have done it only five times. This couple was desperate to find someone who would be able to create an heir. They wanted a boy. What we did is not available in the UK, where gender-selection isn't legal."
Daily Mail notes that "Around five babies a year are born in the UK after their fathers' deaths. Usually, the sperm is extracted while the men are still alive, or children are born from IVF embryos created by a couple before the father's death." But this case is extremely unusual - perhaps the first one - where a child has been born from sperm extracted posthumously. Such cases have happened previously only in India, Australia, and the US. But Dr. Smotrich also shared that he's unaware how the grandparents managed to bypass the strict Britsh laws.
Professor Allan Pacey, a former chairman of the British Fertility Society, said: "If the son, in this case, wasn't being treated by a clinic and had not signed the necessary consent forms for the posthumous retrieval, storage and use of his sperm, then a criminal act has probably taken place. The clinician who extracted the sperm is in breach of the law as is the facility which stored and exported the sample."
The outlet also notes that Prof Pacey added: "In the absence of proper consent, the fertility regulator the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the courts should have been involved in decisions over storage and export. The HFEA was unable to confirm whether its committee had reviewed the case."
Dr. Smotrich's office manager Diane Batzofin said: "I took the initial call, from the dead man's mother. This was a marriage of science and soul. The mother told me it's what her son would have wanted." And at the same time, they were also 'very specific' about the 'type and caliber' of egg donor and surrogate. They insisted on someone who matched the kind of woman they believe their son would have eventually married - in terms of looks, intellect, and education.
Both egg donor and surrogate involved were American. Four embryos were created in all, out of which one was selected and at the time of the child's birth in the US, back in 2015, the couple was present. A total of £60,000-£100,000 is expected to have been spent in the entire procedure, including payments to the egg donor, surrogate and hospital fees. It was only after official paperwork naming them as the child's legal parents were complete that the couple returned to the UK.
While Dr. Smotrich said he has no ethical objections to 'helping the couple and confirmed the remaining sperm and three embryos were in storage,' he explains his theory, saying: "I'm not here to judge who should be a parent. In this case, from what the parents told me, their son absolutely wanted children. I was happy to help a tragic story end with a happy outcome."