US soldier's widow takes sperm after his death
Progress Educational Trust14 April 2008
On 4 April, a judge in Columbus, Georgia, granted a temporary restraining order to stop the US army beginning the embalming process so that Ms Dhanoola could have his sperm extracted later that day.
The widow hopes to be artificially inseminated this summer, but there are fears that the sperm will not be viable, as they were taken four days after Sergeant Dhanoola's death. US fertility expert Dr John Park from Emory University School of Medicine said that viable sperm have been successfully retrieved 36 hours after death, but these sperm were 'highly unlikely' to be functional. He explained that sperm begin to lose mobility and function three hours after the man's death.
The extraction procedure was delayed as the soldier died without a will, and before he left for Iraq had signed a form giving his mother, Monica Brown, the authority to handle his remains upon his death. Ms Brown, however, initially refused to give her consent to the sperm-removal procedure.
Yvonne Watkins, the widow's mother, said that both sides of the family finally reached common ground. 'We're trying to honour my daughter and Darren's wishes', she said. 'All of his comrades and anyone who knew them knew he wanted children'.
The first baby born as a result of sperm taken posthumously was successfully delivered in Los Angeles, US in 1999. Gaby Vernoff became pregnant using sperm that had been taken from her husband Bruce, 30 hours after his unexpected death in 1995. Due to the untimely nature of Mr Vernoff's death, no formal consent was obtained, but Mrs Vernoff had a video of her husband expressing his desire to have children.
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.