A mere three days after their only child’s sudden death, a wealthy British couple illegally harvested his sperm in order to create a “designer grandson”.
The couple’s actions contravene laws in the United Kingdom, where no person can extract another person’s semen without written consent even posthumously, under the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 1990.
To get around this, the couple extracted their son’s semen and sent it to a fertility expert in the US who created a “designer grandson” for the pair using a surrogate and donor eggs. Working remotely from his IVF clinic in La Jolla, California, Dr. David Smotrich told UK publication The Mail that it was a “privilege” to help the couple whose son was unmarried and had no children:
“The English couple lost their son under the most tragic of circumstances. They desperately wanted an heir and a grandchild. It was a privilege to be able to help them.”
55-year-old Dr Smotrich has made headlines over the decades for breaking ethical barriers. The Metro reports that he “created the first test-tube baby for a same-sex US couple in 1997, and previously helped Berkshire-based businessman Ian Mucklejohn become Britain’s first single dad of triplets in 2001.”
Dr Smotrich told reporters: “Producing a child using posthumous sperm is exceedingly rare. I have done it only five times. This couple were desperate to find someone who would be able to create an heir. They wanted a boy. What we did is not available in the UK, where gender-selection isn’t legal.”
According to the Metro, “The boy, now three, is understood to be living in the UK with his grandparents in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the UK.”
Legal experts, however, say that the grandparents could face criminal charges for violating UK laws. Former chairman of the British Fertility Society, Professor Allan Pacey said:
“If the patient, in this case, wasn’t being treated by a clinic, and had not signed the necessary consent forms for the posthumous retrieval, storage and use of his sperm, then a criminal act has probably taken place.
“The clinician who extracted the sperm is in breach of the law as is the facility which stored and exported the sample.”