A lot of ‘ firsts’ unravel in the world daily and this one may yet be a world wonder. Such is the case of an unnamed woman known simply as Mrs. M, and her husband who has decided that they want to birth their own grandchild using the frozen eggs of their dead daughter.
The mother are suing an independent regulator for refusing to let them ship the eggs off to the United States from London. According to reports, the daughter who had gone through the rigours of saving her eggs, before she died of bowel cancer, had wanted the eggs fertilized by a sperm donor and implanted in her mother’s womb. The daughter had in 2008 done the procedure in a clinic at IVF Hammersmith in West London following cancer diagnosis.
The case is believed to be a first and the judge, Mr. Justice Ouseley, has reportedly reserved his judgment, even though Mrs. M, through their counsel Jenni Richards QC, is asking him to rule that this decision was unlawful and a disproportionate interference with the family’s human rights. The judgement is said to be expected in the near future.
The daughter who had hoped to one day carry her own child had died in her late 20s in 2011 before she could actualize that particular dream. At a whooping sum of £60,000 ($92,000), an American clinic based in New York has indicated a willingness to provide the 59 year old mother, Mrs. M, with the fertility treatment she desires. Despite this, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has refused to issue a “special direction” to allow the eggs to be taken out of storage and sent to the US.
The ruling was delivered by HFEA’s Statutory Approvals Committee (SAC), in 2014, saying there was insufficient evidence to show that the daughter wanted her mother to carry her child as the only real evidence, according to minutes from a committee meeting, Mrs. m had was a conversation she had with the deceased daughter while she was hospitalized in 2010.
According to reports, the daughter’s directive to her mother as stated in Mrs, M’s statement; “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. I want you and Dad to bring them up; they will be safe with you. I couldn’t have wanted for better parents. I couldn’t have done this without you.”
However, while the young lady had filled a consent form asking the clinic authorities to store her eggs until after she had died, she hadn’t also filled a separate document indicating her wishes concerning the eggs. Mrs. M in her statement maintained that; “I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that, as far as A [the daughter] was concerned, her eggs held a life force and were living entities in limbo waiting to be born. She was clear that she wanted her genes to be carried forward after her death.She had suffered terribly and this was the one constant in her remaining years from which she never wavered.”
The counsel appearing for the parnts also argued that HFEA had placed ‘unreasonable’ emphasis on the fact that there is no signed document supporting Mrs. M’s claims and that it had also taken a rigid stand on the issue. But the counsel for the HFEA Catherine Callaghan, has argued that the decision was neither irrational nor disproportionate.
Ms Callaghan added: “There may be a natural human temptation to give the claimants what they are seeking, but the court should be very reluctant to assume that, because this is the proposed course the claimants want, it must inherently follow that it was also what the daughter wanted in the absence of clear evidence to that effect.”
The court heard that Mrs. M and her husband wished to remain anonimous so as to protect the identity of “an as yet unborn child”. They claimed that the fact that the daughter’s eggs could not be used would have devastated her.
Speaking on the issue, fertility expert Dr Mohammed Taranissi, who runs the ARGC clinic in London, said: “I have never heard of a surrogacy case involving a mother and her dead daughter’s eggs. It’s fair to say that this may be a world first.”