Author(s): Kerr SM, Caplan A, Polin G, Smugar S, ONeill K
We determined the prevalence of requests for postmortem sperm procurement and the degree to which procurement is performed by those working in the field of infertility.
Structured telephone interviews were conducted with personnel at 273 assisted reproductive facilities in the United States and Canada. The number of facilities reporting requests and the number of facilities reporting that they performed the procedure were determined.
The prevalence of requests for postmortem sperm procurement was much greater than initially anticipated. A total of 82 requests was reported at 40 facilities in 22 different states between 1980 and 1995. More than half of the reported requests (43) were made between 1994 and 1995. Of the 82 requests 25 were honored at 14 facilities in 11 different states. No requests or procedures were reported from Canada.
Medical advances in postmortem sperm procurement, cryopreservation and in vitro fertilization permit retrieval of sperm after death for various purposes, including posthumous fatherhood. There are no explicit ethical guidelines, legislation or relevant case law, and fertility specialists must confront these issues before proceeding in a field fraught with moral and policy uncertainties.