Dead man gives par­ents grand­kids

Use Of De­ceased’s Cryo-Pre­served Se­men Raises Eth­i­cal Ques­tions

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION - Umesh.Isalkar@

Pune: The par­ents of a 27year-old man who died of brain tu­mour two years ago used their un­mar­ried son’s cryo-pre­served se­men, ex­tracted long be­fore his death, to have grand­chil­dren.

Fus­ing the man’s sperm with the eggs of a match­ing donor, doc­tors cre­ated em­bryos and trans­ferred them into a sur­ro­gate mother’s womb. The woman, who in­ci­den­tally is the man’s aunt, de­liv­ered healthy twin baby boys two days ago.

The man was di­ag­nosed with a brain tu­mour in 2013 while pur­su­ing his higher ed­u­ca­tion in Ger­many. Fear­ing that chemo­ther­apy would ren­der the man in­fer­tile, doc­tors took his con­sent to cry­op­re­serve his se­men sam­ple be­fore he went through chemo-cy­cles in Ger­many in Septem­ber the same year. Af­ter he died of can­cer-re­lated com­pli­ca­tions in Pune in Septem­ber 2016, the par­ents pro­cured the se­men sam­ple.

Ex­perts, how­ever, have raised ques­tions about the ethics be­hind the pro­ce­dure.

The man’s 49-year-old mother, a teacher, de­scribed her son as the “most ideal man”. “He was a bright stu­dent and ex­celled in aca­demics. Even when he was di­ag­nosed with a brain tu­mour and later lost his vi­sion af­ter the chemo­ther­apy, he did not lose spirit. He fought valiantly till his last breath. When we lost him, I wanted to have grand­chil­dren us­ing the cryo- pre­served se­men,” she said.

The mother con­tacted the sperm bank in Ger­many and com­pleted the for­mal­i­ties to get the se­men. She then ap­proached Sahyadri Hos­pi­tal on Pune-Ahmed­na­gar road for the IVF pro­ce­dure.

In­fer­til­ity ex­pert Supriya Pu­ranik, who helped with the pro­ce­dure, said the se­men was brought back to Pune in a med­i­cal preser­va­tion so­lu­tion box in Fe­bru­ary last year.

Doc­tors found an egg donor match­ing the fam­ily’s phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics (colour, fa­cial fea­tures, etc.), in­jected the se­men into the donor’s ex­tracted eggs to cre­ate four em­bryos, and cry­opre- served them. The man’s mother was ready to carry the em­bryos in her womb but was not found fit for con­cep­tion dur­ing an ex­am­i­na­tion. Her 38year-old cousin said she was will­ing to be the sur­ro­gate.

“Af­ter val­i­dat­ing the woman’s fit­ness, we trans­ferred two em­bryos into her womb in May last year. Both em­bryos were im­planted and the con­cep­tion was con­firmed in June. Af­ter reg­u­lar check-ups, the woman de­liv­ered full-term healthy twins on Mon­day,” Pu­ranik said.

When con­tacted, Hari G Ra­ma­sub­ra­ma­nian, founder of Chennai-based In­dian Sur­ro­gacy Law Cen­tre, said, “This is not the first time such a case has been re­ported in In­dia. There have been two or three sim­i­lar cases in the past, which have led to this de­bate on whether some­one can be­come a par­ent posthu­mously.”

Elab­o­rat­ing the eth­i­cal con­cerns, Ra­ma­sub­ra­ma­nian said, “There are four is­sues here. First, did the son give con­sent for his se­men to be used for pro­cre­ation af­ter his death? Se­cond, how are the grand­par­ents go­ing to se­cure the fu­ture of the new­borns in all as­pects of life and liv­ing? Third, while a per­son has the right to be­come a par­ent, the right to be­come grand­par­ents is com­pletely out­side the am­bit of fun­da­men­tal rights. Fourth, and most im­por­tant, what about the rights of the child to have nor­mal par­ent­ing?”

Ra­ma­sub­ra­ma­nian said there is no spe­cific leg­is­la­tion on such cases at present.

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