Israeli Family Allowed to Freeze Eggs of Dead Daughter

World | August 9, 2011, Tuesday // 16:20|  views

A human egg cell, photo by iskamdaznam.com

An Israeli family has been given permission by court to extract and freeze eggs from the ovaries of their 17-year-old daughter who died in a road accident.

According to legal experts, the case sets a precedent not only in Israel, but in other parts of the world.

The organs of the 17-year-old schoolgirl, who died in a car crash one week ago, were donated to four patients, according to a report of the Ha'aretz news organization.

The girl was declared brain dead on August 03.

The ruling of the court in the town of Kfar Sava brings up a number of ethical and legal questions because it opens the door to the opportunity of a woman giving birth after her death, an occurrence which is equally unacceptable in Israel's conservative environment and in many other places around the world.

Few countries have legal regulation in the sphere, although posthumous sperm retrieval (PSR), the extraction of spermatozoa from a man after he has been pronounced legally brain dead and with explicit prior consent from the donor, is gaining popularity.

PSR cases have been reported in the US and Israel.

In 2010, however, judges and doctors in the US did not allow another family to extract eggs from the ovary of a brain dead air hostess on the grounds that she had expressed no explicit desire to have children before she was struck down with a heart attack.

The question of consent is of crucial importance in the case of the 17-year-old-girl too.

Although the court ordered the eggs to be extracted simultaneously with the removal of the organs for donation, the judges turned down a petition for them to be fertilized with donated sperm, at least for the time being.

According to the latest reports on the matter, the family has given up on its plans to fertilize the eggs.

Approval is only likely to be given if the girl's family can prove that she wanted to have children.

However, the girl's age could prove a contentious factor because very few 17-year-olds have motherhood plans.

Apart from that, the technological aspects of the procedure are at least as complex.

Despite the considerable technological advances in the storage of human eggs, it is far from certain that an attempt to create a pregnancy in such artificial circumstances will succeed.

A doctor close to the family has told Israeli journalists that the parents wanted to fertilize the eggs and freeze the embryos because this increased the probability of success than if the eggs were frozen and later fertilized.

The Israeli Health Ministry has said that the court did not consult its experts about the matter.

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Tags: car crash, brain dead, transplantation, donor, Israel

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