In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, a 59-year old woman has launched a legal bid to carry her own grandchild.
Her daughter had her eggs frozen at an IVF clinic in London after being diagnosed with cancer in 2005. She passed away six years later, while still in her 20s, after reportedly expressing a wish that that the eggs be fertilised by donor sperm and implanted in her mother.
The woman, referred to in legal documents as ‘Mrs M’, lives in the United States. She now hopes to undergo fertility treatment at a clinic in New York but the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) last year refused to issue a permit allowing the frozen eggs to be taken out of storage and sent over.
The HFEA is the independent statutory organisation responsible for regulating and inspecting fertility clinics in the UK.
Although Mrs M’s daughter completed a form giving consent to the storage of her eggs following her death, she did not leave clear evidence of her wish to give the eggs to her mother. Instead Mrs M relied on a conversation reportedly held while her daughter was in hospital in 2010.
She is said to have told her mother:
“I want you to carry my babies. I didn’t go through IVF to save my eggs for nothing. I want you and Dad to bring them up; they will be safe with you. I couldn’t have wanted for better parents. I couldn’t have done this without you.”
But the HFEA ruled that Mrs M could not provide sufficient evidence of her claims.
She and her husband challenged the decision in the UK courts, arguing that the HFEA’s refusal was unreasonable and a “disproportionate interference” with their right to a family life.
The mother declared:
“I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that, as far as [my daughter] was concerned, her eggs held a life force and were living entities in limbo waiting to be born. She was clear that she wanted her genes to be carried forward after her death. She had suffered terribly and this was the one constant in her remaining years from which she never wavered.”
But counsel for the HFEA countered that:
“There may be a natural human temptation to give the claimants what they are seeking, but the court should be very reluctant to assume that, because this is the proposed course the claimants want, it must inherently follow that it was also what the daughter wanted in the absence of clear evidence to that effect.”
Mr Justice Ouseley has reserved judgement on the case and will issue his ruling shortly.