Dead man gives parents grandkids
Use Of Deceased’s Cryo-Preserved Semen Raises Ethical Questions
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.