A British court handed down a heartbreaking decision that a woman would not be allowed to use her deceased daughter’s eggs to conceive and birth a grandchild.
The 58-year-old woman’s daughter passed away from cancer when she was only 28 years old. When she was diagnosed at age 23, she had taken the time to freeze several of her eggs in hopes that they could be used at a future time. Unfortunately she had never completed paperwork that would allow them to be used by a surrogate, so the court was forced to decide against the family.
The mother located a fertility clinic in the U.S. that would provide the treatment she would need to carry a grandchild to term — fertilization with donor sperm, followed by implantation into her own uterus. However, conflict arose with the storage facility where the eggs are currently held, who refused to release the eggs to move them to the U.S.
Now the family has to come to terms with the fact that their only child’s wishes may not be fulfilled. The mother told the court that her daughter had said, “They are never going to let me leave this hospital, Mum — the only way I will get out of here will be in a body bag. I want you to carry my babies. I didn’t go through IVF to save my eggs for nothing.”
Unfortunately the statement doesn’t carry any legal weight, and it was out of the judge’s hands, because the required documentation simply wasn’t there. The judge, while admitting this was a very sad case, said the mother’s statement “lacked a definitive and settled expression; she had not focussed on the practical and legal issues, and she had had time to discuss them with her mother and doctors but did not do so.”
What a tragedy for this family to have to experience the death of their only child in the first place, and then to realize that the necessary legal documentation wasn’t in place that would allow this woman’s eggs to be used in the manner she was hoping for. While she did sign a document guaranteeing that the eggs would be kept for an additional 10 years after her death, it doesn’t really do her or her family any good since she didn’t further specify how they could be used.
The takeaway lesson here, if there indeed is one, is that if you are facing such a fate and hope to preserve your eggs, make sure you specify how they can be used if you die. While nobody wants to think about their own death, it’s an unfortunate reality for some. I hope this family can find some peace even though they were dealt such a staggering blow.