Sunday 18 February 2018

Widow wins High Court battle over dead husband's sperm

Beth Warren and her late husband Warren Brewer
Beth Warren and her late husband Warren Brewer

Hayley Dixon

A young widow has won a High Court fight to preserve her dead husband's sperm.

Beth Warren, 28, challenged a storage time limit imposed by the UK fertility regulator claiming that her grief had left her unready to start a family alone.

The physiotherapist said the limit meant she had little over a year to conceive using sperm her husband Warren Brewer had placed in storage before he died of a brain tumour two years ago, aged 32.

Mrs Warren, who uses her late husband's first name as her surname, asked a High Court judge to decide whether the sperm could stay in storage for a longer period.

Judge Mrs Justice Hogg, who heard evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London in January, ruled in her favour.

Mrs Warren, from Birmingham, gasped when the judge announced her decision and said after the hearing that she was “every good word in the dictionary”.

The couple had been together for eight years and married in December 2011, six weeks before Mr Brewer died.

Sperm and eggs can be stored for decades, but only if the donor gives consent every few years. As this was not possible in Mr Brewer’s case it was due to be destroyed.

A lawyer representing the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) told the judge that officials sympathised with Mrs Warren.

But Jane Collier said Mr Brewer, a ski instructor, had not given written consent to his sperm being stored beyond April 2015.

A lawyer representing Mrs Warren told the judge that the authority was taking an "excessively linguistic and technical approach" and suggested that every option had not been made clear to Mr Brewer.

Jenni Richards QC said Mr Brewer wanted to ensure that his sperm could be used by his wife after his death and had made his intentions clear.

After the hearing Mrs Warren said: "I am elated. Every good word in the dictionary. I hadn't dared to let myself believe it would happen."

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