60-Year-Old Woman Wins Appeal To Become Pregnant With Dead Daughter’s Eggs

Mrs M had planned to be impregnated at a fertility clinic in the US using donor sperm. nevodka/Shutterstock
Ben Taub 01 Jul 2016, 14:13

A woman in the UK could be set to give birth to her own grandchild, after winning an appeal against a High Court decision not to allow her to use her dead daughter’s eggs.

Known only as Mrs M, the 60-year-old woman says that shortly before dying of bowel cancer in 2011 at the age of 28, her daughter had made it clear that she wished for her mother to have her child. In 2014, however, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) denied Mrs M permission to obtain the eggs and take them to a fertility clinic in the US, where she planned to become impregnated using donor sperm.

Though the HFEA said it sympathizes with Mrs M, it maintains that it cannot approve the release of the eggs from storage since the daughter – referred to simply as A – did not give full written consent before passing away. Though this decision was upheld by the High Court last year, Mrs M and her husband decided to take the case to the Court of Appeal, where judges have now ruled in their favor.

Representing Mrs M, Jenni Richards QC told the court that “all available evidence” indicates that A wanted her mother “to have her child after death,” adding that should the original decision not be overturned, these eggs would “simply be allowed to perish.”

In 1998, the HFEA introduced new guidelines stipulating that both donors and recipients of eggs must sign agreements with the fertility clinic, providing permission for the procedure to go ahead and setting out the rights of each party. Because of this, the organization maintains that it did the right thing by initially denying Mrs M access to her dead daughter’s eggs, saying: The law requires us to consider whether there is sufficient evidence of informed consent. After looking at the matter in great detail we decided that there wasn't.”

However, the organization does appear willing to accept the new ruling, claiming that the Court of Appeal’s judgement “reaffirms the need for informed consent but concludes that there is sufficient evidence of Mr and Mrs M's daughter's true wishes.”

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