(Reuters Health) – Many Americans may think it’s OK to retrieve sperm or eggs from a dead or dying spouse in order to have children in the future — but only if there is written consent, a new survey suggests.
The survey, of more than 1,000 U.S. adults, asked people about their views on “posthumous reproduction.”
Most often, that involves eggs, sperm or embryos that were frozen by a person before undergoing medical treatment that could cause infertility — usually chemotherapy or radiation for cancer. If that person dies, their surviving partner may use the eggs or sperm to have a child through assisted reproduction.
In those cases, couples would have typically planned for, and documented, what should be done with the sperm or eggs if the ill partner died.
But in recent years, it’s become possible to do “emergency” retrieval of sperm or eggs when someone suddenly dies or becomes terminally ill.