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Mother launches legal bid to use dead daughter's frozen eggs

Mother's legal bid to use dead daughter's frozen eggs Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

A mother has launched a legal bid to have her dead daughter's frozen eggs exported so she can have IVF and carry her own grandchild.

In what may be the first case of its kind in the world, the unidentified 59-year-old woman and her husband, 58, are challenging an independent regulator's refusal to allow them to take the eggs to a US fertility treatment clinic.

They have been refused treatment at fertility clinics in the UK.

The couple claim it was the dying wish of their daughter, an only child who died of bowel cancer in her late 20s, that her eggs be fertilised by donor sperm and implanted into her own mother's womb.

The daughter froze the eggs in the hope she would be able to use them. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

The daughter had her eggs frozen after being diagnosed with cancer in the hope that she herself could have children in the future.

Her parents want to export the eggs to New York, where a clinic has indicated it is willing to provide fertility treatment at an estimated cost of up to £60,000.

Fertility expert Dr Mohammed Taranissi, who runs the ARGC clinic in London, said: "I have never heard of a surrogacy case involving a mother and her dead daughter's eggs. It's fair to say that this may be a world first."

But the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has refused to issue a "special direction" allowing the eggs to be removed from storage in London and sent to the US.

The HFEA's statutory approvals committee (SAC) made the 2014 refusal decisions saying there was insufficient evidence to show that the daughter wanted her mother to use donor sperm to carry her child.

Document already in the public domain reveal the couple's daughter was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 23 and chose to freeze and store three of her eggs at IVF Hammersmith in West London in 2008. She completed a form which gave consent for the eggs to be stored for use after her death, but crucially, failed to fill in a separate form which indicated how she wished the eggs to be used. This technically meant her consent became invalid.

The young woman is said to have asked an unnamed doctor whether someone with a stoma such as herself could carry a child. The doctor confirmed it was possible. But, the mother says, it was then agreed that if her daughter could not carry a child "I would do it for her". The minutes say the young woman wanted her mother to "carry her babies... in the context of her not expecting to leave hospital alive".