A New York judge has ruled that the parents of a 21-year-old cadet from the U.S. Military Academy can use their dead son’s frozen sperm to produce a child.
West Point cadet Peter Zhu, who was unmarried, died after a skiing accident on February 23.
He had been found unresponsive on a ski slope on the grounds of the military academy in upstate New York.
Zhu was then taken to a hospital, where he was declared brain dead days later.
In March, his parents petitioned the court to allow the hospital to have their son’s sperm retrieved and frozen at the same time harvest his organs for donation.
The petition was granted and the sperm was preserved at a sperm bank after the retrieval.
His organs were also harvested to help those waiting for a lifesaving transplant before he was buried in the West Point Cemetery.
According to CNN, the Supreme Court Justice John Colangelo’s ruling gave Zhu’s parents the ability to attempt conception with a surrogate mother using their late son’s sperm.
“At this time, the court will place no restrictions on the use to which Peter’s parents may ultimately put their son’s sperm, including its potential use for procreative purposes,” Colangelo wrote.
“They shall possess and control the disposition and potential use of their son Peter's genetic material."
Zhu’s case isn’t the first incident of this type, according to AP.
In 2007, a court in Iowa authorized recovery of a man’s sperm by his parents to donate to his fiance for future procreative use.
In 2009, a Texas woman got a judge’s permission to have her 21-year-old son’s sperm extracted after his death, with the intention of hiring a surrogate mother to bear her a grandchild.
In 2018, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued ethical guidelines for fertility centers on posthumous collection of reproductive tissue.
The organization said its justifiable if authorized in writing by the deceased. Otherwise, it said, programs should only consider requests from the surviving spouse or partner.
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