A MOTHER is launching a legal battle for possession of her dead daughter’s frozen eggs so that she can become pregnant with her own grandchild.
The 59-year-old woman and her husband, 58, are challenging an independent regulator’s refusal to allow them to take the eggs to a US fertility clinic.
“She wanted mother to carry her baby, not expecting to live”SAC minutes
The couple say it was the dying wish of their daughter, an only child who died of bowel cancer in her late 20s, that her eggs be fertilised by anonymous donor sperm and implanted into her own mother’s womb.
She initially had her eggs frozen after being diagnosed with cancer in the hope that she herself could have children in the future, but lost her battle for life.
Her parents want to export the eggs to New York, where a clinic has indicated it is willing to provide fertility treatment at an estimated cost of up to £60,000.
But the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) last year refused to issue a “special direction” allowing the eggs to be removed from storage in London and sent to the US.
The HFEA’s statutory approvals committee (SAC) said there was insufficient evidence to show the daughter wanted her mother to use donor sperm to carry her child.
The committee argues there was no clear, written consent and it was entitled to refuse to issue a special direction, without which it would be unlawful for export of the eggs to go ahead.
The couple have now applied for a judicial review, which has been listed as “M v the HFEA”. It is understood that the family wishes to remain anonymous.
Documents already in the public domain reveal the couple’s daughter was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 23 and chose to freeze and store three of her eggs at IVF Hammersmith in West London in 2008.
She completed a form which gave consent for the eggs to be stored for use after her death, but crucially, failed to fill in a separate form which indicated how she wished the eggs to be used. This technically meant her consent became invalid. She died in 2011 and was single. SAC minutes reveal the “strongest and only evidence” of her wishes was a reported conversation with her mother in 2010.
The mother says it was agreed that if her daughter could not carry a child “I would do it for her”. The minutes say the young woman wanted her mother to “carry her babies… in the context of her not expecting to leave hospital alive”.
The couple approached fertility clinics after she died. However, no UK clinics were prepared to carry it the procedure.
Generally, fertility clinics will not treat women over 50 due to the extra risks involved.