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HFEA Chair Ruth Deech
"Sperm is not property"
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Cary Johnston reports for BBC News
"A hospital spokesman says its lawyers have advised it not to release the sperm"
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In discussion
HFEA's Ruth Deech and Professor Craft of the London Fertility Clinic
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Sunday, 19 December, 1999, 07:06 GMT
Couple's surrogate grandchild fight

Laboratory The case raises ethical questions

A couple are preparing for a legal battle to have a grandchild using the sperm of their dead son and a surrogate mother.

Lance Smith died in a car crash in November 1998, but in a brief letter written six months previously, he requested his sperm be stored if he died suddenly.

If this sperm is destroyed, it is as if he is dying again
Barry Smith
The fertility clinic where Lance's sperm is stored blocked the move on ethical grounds, but Lance's parents are preparing to fight the decision.

Natasha and Barry Smith, both 60, say they want to keep their 36-year-old son's memory alive and are looking for a surrogate mother after Lance's girlfriend of 10 years decided against carrying his child.

They are determined to take Lance's sperm abroad and pay an egg donor and a surrogate mother to have the child.

Mr Smith told The Mail on Sunday: "You must understand, if this sperm is destroyed it is as if he is dying again to us, it really is."

Landmark ruling

Lance made his request in a brief letter after he became interested in the case of Diane Blood, who fought for the right to have a baby using her dead husband's sperm.

Diane Blood and her son Liam
Two years ago Ms Blood won a legal battle to overturn a Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) decision to conceive using her dead husband's sperm.

Mr and Mrs Smith, of Droitwich, Worcestershire, have had their wish blocked by the fertility centre at Birmingham's Priory Hospital.

The clinic - which stored a quantity of Lance's sperm after the accident - was told by HFEA that the sperm could be stored but not used.

The hospital says it has concerns about the welfare of the child and the fact that Lance did not undergo counselling before giving his sperm, as required under HFEA rules.

Problems over consent

Priory Hospital's executive director John Sharp has told the couple it is "outside the scope of the consent" to have the baby by a surrogate mother.

The HFEA - the government's infertility watchdog - says any decision to release the sperm can only be made by the clinic where it is stored.

And it says there are problems over consent, because Lance did not make his views known to a licensed clinic.

Chief Executive Suzanne McCarthy said: "What we would encourage people to do if they are at all worried that they could have an accident or get ill very quickly and not be able to have their sperm taken, is go out and get it stored.

"Then the consent is very clear and there is no doubt."

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See also:
16 Dec 99 |  Health
Woman battles test-tube ruling
15 Dec 99 |  Health
Court fight over test-tube ban
02 May 99 |  UK
Diane Blood's son christened
29 Mar 99 |  Sci/Tech
Baby from dead husband's sperm

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