Scottish Daily Mail

Widow of Falklands hero wins battle to have baby by dead husband

- By Steve Doughty Social Affairs Correspond­ent

THE widow of a Falklands War veteran was yesterday handed a ‘last chance’ to have her late husband’s child.

Embryos created by Clive and Samantha Jefferies during IVF treatment must be preserved rather than destroyed, a judge ruled.

Mrs Jefferies, 42, whose husband died two years ago, said the decision meant she had not been ‘denied a child by bureaucrac­y’.

The couple had been referred for IVF by the NHS is 2013, with the resulting embryos first frozen and stored in 2014.

However 51-year-old Mr Jefferies died suddenly from a brain haemorrhag­e that year while still undergoing the treatment.

Meanwhile the fertility clinic had decided to preserve the embryos for just two years because the couple’s NHS funding was scheduled to run out after that. Now the

‘Her last chance to have his child’

President of the Family Division Sir James Munby has ruled that the embryos must be stored for ten years because Mr Jefferies – a Royal Army Medical Corps veteran who survived the 1982 bombing of transport ship Sir Galahad during the Falklands War – did not sign consent forms for the shorter storage term.

Mrs Jefferies, from East Sussex, said yesterday that the court’s decision was ‘overwhelmi­ngly fantastic – just brilliant’.

She told the court that the war veteran was ‘a wonderful man’ and said: ‘I want my husband’s child.’ She added that she did not want to be denied her last chance by a clinic’s bureaucrac­y.

She said she did not plan to use the embryos soon, but ‘I would love to be a mum.’

Mrs Jefferies, an occupation­al therapist, met her husband in 1999 and the couple married in 2006. After failing to have children, they were referred to the Sussex Downs Fertility Centre, which is run by BMI Healthcare.

The shorter storage period for embryos was one of a number of alteration­s the clinic made to consent forms in 2014. Most of the forms were signed by Mr Jefferies, however no one had signed an agreement for the shorter storage time. BMI Healthcare paid Mrs Jefferies legal costs – action which Sir James said showed the firm had acted ‘with sensitivit­y and compassion’.

Mrs Jefferies said that the court ruling yesterday ‘has given me faith in the law.’

Her barrister Jenni Richards QC told the judge: ‘Samantha brought this case because the embryos represent her last chance of having the child of her husband they had so dearly wanted.’

In 2012, industry regulator the Human Fertilisat­ion and Embryology Authority told IVF clinics that restrictin­g storage periods could cause ‘distress’ to couples if one of them died. It said even if NHS money ran out, embryos should be kept for ten years.

However the reduced storage terms were adopted in defiance of the advice.

Sir James said he would explain his ruling in full at a later date. He told Mrs Jefferies: ‘I am just sorry that ... this can end up in court because of mistakes made by other people.’

The judge added that the case ‘turned on a signature’.

Sir James has overseen several cases involving bureaucrat­ic errors at IVF clinics, including several which meant fathers were not registered as the legal parent of their child.

 ??  ?? Victory: Widow Samantha Jefferies, 42, leaving court yesterday
Victory: Widow Samantha Jefferies, 42, leaving court yesterday
 ??  ?? Died suddenly: Clive Jefferies
Died suddenly: Clive Jefferies

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