Egg freezing is pretty cool technology that allows women to preserve their youthful fertility in the face of age, disease, medical treatment, and other issues. It can even lead to a person having genetic heirs after her death, so it is important that anyone planning on freezing eggs make sure to specify what should be done with them in the result of her death.
According to the New York Post, a long legal battle in the U.K. has finally come to an end with a judge barring a woman from using her deceased daughter’s eggs to give birth to her own grandchild this week. The case hinged on the argument about whether or not the woman would have wanted her parents to fertilize her eggs after her death, because it was not clear from the woman’s records.
According to The Daily Mail, the 59-year-old mother has been campaigning to be allowed to use her daughter’s eggs to bear her own grandchild. The woman’s daughter died in 2011 of bowel cancer at the age of 28, but had frozen her eggs in 2008 after she was diagnosed with cancer, presumably in the hopes of preserving her fertility after surviving her cancer treatments.
The daughter had allegedly signed a consent form saying the eggs could be stored after her death, but did not sign paperwork specifying what should be done with them. The mother says it was her daughter’s dying wish that her parents use her eggs and donor sperm to conceive a child, but without proof, the judge says it was not clear that that was the woman’s intention at all. The judge barred the eggs from being sent to the U.S. clinic that had agreed to fertilize and implant the eggs.
The 59-year-old mother was reportedly planning on having the eggs implanted in her own uterus. For some reason, her desire to bear the child or children herself makes the situation seem somewhat weirder to me. If she said she wanted to hire a surrogate, I would understand the desire to have and raise a grandchild, especially if having a genetic offspring really was her daughter’s dying wish. But wanting to physically deliver her daughter’s baby at 59 years old makes it seem like what she really wants is her daughter back. That’s understandable. What happened to her daughter was a tragedy. But delivering the grandchild wouldn’t give her daughter back.
This should, however, be a lesson to any of us planning on freezing embryos or eggs for the future. Make sure to specify in writing what should happen to them in the event of your death, and who can and cannot use them to create children. No one wants to think about dying, but it’s important to cover all the eventualities when one is talking about children.