Widow in bid to keep sperm stored

A woman whose husband died of cancer has begun a legal bid to stop his sperm being destroyed.

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A woman whose husband died of cancer needs more time to think about whether she wishes to have a child who will never meet its father

A woman whose husband died of cancer has begun a legal bid to stop his sperm being destroyed.

Beth Warren said she needs more time to think about whether she wishes to have a child who will never meet its father.

Mrs Warren's brother died in a car accident just weeks before her husband, Warren Brewer, a ski instructor, died of a brain tumour aged 32 in February 2012.

Both incidents left her with a "huge amount to cope with", she told the BBC.

Mrs Warren, 28, from Birmingham, has been told by the fertility regulator that the sperm cannot be stored beyond April 2015.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said it has "no discretion to extend the storage period beyond that to which her husband gave written consent".

Mr Brewer's sperm was stored before radiotherapy treatment in 2005, and he signed several forms saying his wife should be allowed to use it after his death.

The couple, who were together for eight years, married in a hospice six weeks before he died.

She told the BBC: "I understand that it's a huge decision to have a child who will never meet their father.

"I cannot make that choice now and need more time to build my life back. I may never go ahead with treatment but I want to have the freedom to decide once I am no longer grieving.

"My brother died in a car accident just weeks before my husband's death, so there has been a huge amount to cope with."

Mrs Warren was initially told that her husband's last consent form elapsed in April 2013, but she has been granted two extensions since then.

The frozen sperm is stored at the Care fertility clinic in Northampton.

Her lawyer, James Lawford Davies said: "Common-sense dictates that she should be allowed time to recover from the loss of her husband and brother and not be forced into making such an important reproductive choice at this point in her life."

Mr Lawford Davies said there were a number of inconsistencies about the regulations governing stored sperm.

The sperm has to be used by April 2015 but if it was thawed and used to create embryos, these could be stored for a further seven years.

Under the time limit, Mrs Warren could use the sperm to create one child but not another, he told the BBC

There is also no restriction on the sperm being exported to another country, which means Mrs Warren could be treated abroad.

The case will be heard next year by a judge from the Family Division of the High Court.

In her legal submission Mrs Warren said: "I am aware that I may decide not to the use the stored samples in the event that I meet someone in the future and choose to have a family with him.

"I do not know what will happen in the future and I would like to have the choice left open to be able to have my husband's child as I know he would have wanted."

In a statement, the HFEA said: "The HFEA has every sympathy with Mrs Warren and the tragic circumstance in which she finds herself.

"We have been in discussions with Mrs Warren's solicitors for some time and each time new information has been presented to us, we have reconsidered the legal situation in as responsive a way as possible.

"However, the law on the storage of gametes is clear and the HFEA has no discretion to extend the storage period beyond that to which her husband gave written consent."

In 1997, Diane Blood won the right to conceive a child using sperm from her dead husband, Stephen, who died from bacterial meningitis.

He fell into a coma and Mrs Blood asked doctors to extract some of his sperm.

The Court of Appeal ruled against the HFEA and said that Mrs Blood should be allowed to undergo treatment with the collected sperm. She had two sons.