Parents of Dead Briton Want to Have Surrogate Grandchild

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

London ( - A British couple will ask a court for permission to use the sperm of their dead son to conceive a grandchild by a surrogate mother. But the government's fertility treatment watchdog organization has warned of the legal and ethical problems involved in the case.

Lance Smith, 36, signed a consent form before his death enabling his girlfriend of 10 years to conceive a child using his sperm. According to his wishes, sperm had been removed from his body shortly after his death in a traffic accident 13 months ago. It's being stored at a Birmingham fertility clinic.

But when Smith's girlfriend decided not to go ahead with the conception, Lance's parents, Natasha and Barry Smith, presented a typewritten note purportedly from Lance requesting that his sperm be used in the conception of a surrogate grandchild for his parents.

The Smiths want to take the sperm abroad, where they would pay for an egg donor and for a woman to carry the child.

The chairman of the government's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), Ruth Deech, told the BBC she was sure many couples would "like to be grandparents" but this did not give anyone the right to use a child's sperm in this way.

"It doesn't mean to say that we have the right to carry around the eggs and sperm of our children as if they were commodities looking for someone to bring them to life."

Deech also questioned the authenticity of the typewritten letter. "There are apparently two quite different pieces that he wrote, so they have to be able to go to court and find which, if either, is authentic."

Lance Smith apparently become interested in the idea of conceiving a child after death, following the case of a woman who won an earlier legal battle against the HFEA. She was allowed to conceive a child using the sperm provided by her husband shortly before he died of meningitis.

Meanwhile the fertility clinic has been asked not to destroy Smith's sperm pending the outcome of whatever legal steps his parents decide to pursue.