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Monday, 6 December, 1999, 18:52 GMT
Woman demands health authority pays for surrogacy
ivf Surrogacy case is first of its kind

A woman who had a hysterectomy 26 years ago is seeking damages from a health authority to pay for a surrogate child.

Margaret Briody, 46, is the first woman to sue for money to provide such treatment.

St Helens and Knowsley Health Authority was found guilty last year of negligence in her care after two pregnancies ended in stillbirth and an emergency hysterectomy at the age of 20.

She is now bringing a case in the High Court demanding money to pay for a surrogate child, though the court was told her chances of success with this method are "negligible".

This is the first time a claim for damages for surrogacy has advanced to trial
Richard Hone QC
She has found a woman in California willing to carry her child using one of Miss Briody's eggs fertilised by the sperm of her partner John Hill.

She has turned down settlements offered by the health authority of 60,000 and 100,000.

Richard Hone QC, representing Miss Briody, said his client wanted damages for the "disappointment, distress and lack of fulfilment in life" caused by the hospital's negligence which resulted in her being infertile.

He added: "This is the first time a claim for damages for surrogacy has advanced to trial."

Her own medical witness, Professor Ian Craft said her chances of success using her own eggs implanted in a surrogate mother after being fertilised with her partner's sperm were "about 1%".

Upper age limit

Professor Craft, whose in vitro fertilisation and surrogacy treatment will cost an estimated 48,000, said his clinic put the upper age limit for treatment at 55.

He said tests had shown she was still capable of producing her own eggs for the treatment. "I have told her I will only try this method of treatment twice before I use donated eggs because the disappointment would be profound and she has been disappointed enough."

But Lord Winston, professor of fertility studies at Imperial College, told the court that Miss Briody's chances were remote to the point of being "negligible".

"We should not be trying to procure pregnancy at all costs. One has eventually to come to terms with childlessness," he said.

"When you go on trying there is a risk of causing greater damage rather than less in terms of disappointment."

The hearing continues.

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See also:
23 Aug 99 |  Health
Age limit for NHS fertility treatment
31 Mar 99 |  Medical notes
IVF: The facts

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