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Surrogate Mother Like No Other: Mom Battles Court For Right To Carry Dead Daughter's Child

egg and sperm
The UK's Human Fertilization authority doesn't want to release this dead woman's eggs, but they may soon have to. Spike Walker. Wellcome Images CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A 60-year-old English woman is getting a second shot at becoming a surrogate mother to her now deceased daughter after the British Court of Appeals agreed to review her request. If she wins, the woman, known only as Mrs. M, would become the first woman ever to become pregnant using the eggs of her dead daughter.  

After losing her only daughter to cancer in 2011, Mrs. M attempted to gain the next best thing — a grandchild. According to ITV News, last year Mrs. M and her husband Mr. M attempted to reclaim the frozen eggs of their late daughter with the intent of having them fertilized so that they could then raise the child. However, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), an independent regulator licensing fertility clinics and overseeing human embryo research in the UK, denied the couple’s request. They claimed  that the eggs could not be released from storage because their daughter, referred to only as A, had not given her full written consent before her death.

Following the refusal, the couple took their request to court. However, the High Court of England — one of the most senior courts in the UK — also denied the couple’s request, basing their ruling on the previous decision made by the HEFA. Now, the case is back up for appeal after the couple claimed to have found evidence that their daughter wanted her eggs used in the case of her death. According to the parents, their daughter made it clear that she was desperate to have children and wanted her mother to “carry my babies,” The Mirror reported.

Today, the couple’s case was heard by two judges in the Court of Appeal, a court with the power to reverse decisions made by the High Court. After hearing the couple’s argument, the judges claimed they would need time before reaching a final decision on whether or not they will grant the couple permission to challenge the High Court’s original decision.

“We say an appeal would have a realistic prospect of success,” Jenni Richards, a lawyer for the couple, told ITV News, claiming that “all available evidence” showed that the deceased daughter wanted to “have a child after her death.”

If the couple wins the case, they plan on taking the eggs to the United States where they will be fertilized with donor sperm and implanted inside of Mrs. M using IVF. Although M is well past the age of fertility, she still has a working womb and this would allow her to become pregnant using a donated egg. 

While Mrs. M could potentially become the first mother to give birth to the child of her dead daughter, mother-daughter surrogacies are becoming increasingly popular. Earlier this year, Tracy Thompson, a grandmother in Texas, became a surrogate mother to her own daughter. Thompson’s daughter, Kelley McKissack, 28, experienced three miscarriages and multiple failed attempts at fertility treatment, and had only four embryos left over from her IVF treatments. Thompson volunteered to have the embryos implanted into her womb instead. The pregnancy was difficult and Thompson ultimately ended up needing a C-section, but today mother, daughter, and grandmother are all doing well.

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