By Caroline Song

A 59-year-old woman in the United Kingdom is making history: she is looking for a sperm donor to fertilize her deceased daughter’s eggs so that she can gestate her own grandchild.

Her daughter, known only as Ms. A, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2005, and succumbed to the disease in 2011 at the age of 28. After receiving her diagnosis, Ms. A decided to have some of her eggs harvested and frozen. In 2008, she signed paperwork indicating that her eggs could be used for treatment, but not for research.

Ms. A had always wanted a family – it was this desire that led her to freeze her eggs. Near the end of her life, Ms. A began asking her mother to be her surrogate.

Ms. A’s mother is currently fighting the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority’s (HFEA) decision to forbid her from using the eggs for the purpose of creating and carrying a child to term. HFEA issued this decision because Ms. A did not leave any formal written documents that indicate whether she would consent to this use of her eggs. Ms. A’s mother is claiming that her daughter’s requests constitute informal consent to this use. But even if her request is granted, Ms. A’s mother will have to leave the country if she wants to follow through with surrogacy; no clinic in the UK is willing to treat her, but she has located a clinic in New York where she could undergo the procedure.

A ruling in the case is expected at some time in the next several months.

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