Parents to Peter Zhu, a 21-year-old West Point cadet killed in a skiing accident in February have been granted permission by a New York supreme court judge to proceed with producing a grandchild extracted from sperms of their deceased.
The case is sparking fresh ethical and moral questions about the post-mortem retrieval — and use — of human sperm, or eggs,
While Zhu is said to have always wanted a child of his own, it is less clear whether he would have wanted his parents to create his offspring posthumously.
It is also a gamble to know if the parents will find a doctor willing to perform the procedure and a woman willing to be an egg donor or surrogate.
The first known baby born from post-mortem sperm extraction was delivered in 1999, when Gaby Vernoff gave birth to a daughter in a Los Angeles hospital using frozen sperm that had been retrieved from her dead husband 15 months earlier.
In Canada, post-mortem sperm retrieval can only happen with the deceased’s prior written consent.
Under Canada’s Assisted Human Reproduction Act, before “human reproductive material” is removed from a dead body, there must exist a document signed by the “donor” authorizing the use of his or her gametes for the purpose of creating an embryo.
The donor’s surviving spouse or common-law partner can use the material.
There is no mention of the parents.