72 year-old could father his own grandchild
What do you think of the news that a 72-year-old man could become the sperm donor for his own grandchild?
The BBC report that the anonymous man — who is way above the recommended age for sperm donation - wishes to donate his sperm to his son and daughter-in-law because they have not been able to conceive a child through IVF. Any baby born under this arrangement would be the grandfather's genetic child and its father's half sibling!
Dr Peter Bowen-Simkins of the London Women's Clinic said he had never come across a case like this before but that advances in fertility treatment meant people were now willing to consider all kinds of options.
He told the BBC: 'The wife's mother-in-law also had to be included in all the conversations but she has no objections. Society has also changed its perceptions of what is and what is not acceptable. In this case, keeping the identity of the child similar to their own was a huge factor. The husband does not have a brother, which is why he chose his own father to assist.'
Perhaps surprisingly, this decision does not require the approval of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which regulates the fertility sector. Donations from family members - such as sisters giving each other their eggs - are already allowed under the law.
At the age of 18 the child will, like all other cildren born as the result of sperm donation, have the right to find out who his father is.
Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield and Secretary of the British Fertility Society, told the BBC the ethics did not bother him, but safety concerns did. 'At the genetic level, sperm from older men is not as good as sperm from someone in their 25s.
'There is growing data to show sperm from older men increases the risk of miscarriage and the chances of the child having disease, as well as reducing the chances of IVF working. Ideally, from a best practice point of view, donors should not be older than 40.'
Earlier this year, a Canadian woman announced that she had frozen her eggs for use by her seven-year-old daughter, who was likely to be infertile.
What do you think?
Page created on October 8th, 2007
Page updated on January 16th, 2010