Widow hails sperm case victory

Preston and Leyland Citizen: Beth Warren can preserve her late husband's sperm until 2060. Beth Warren can preserve her late husband's sperm until 2060.

A widow was today lost for words after winning a legal fight to preserve her late husband's sperm.

The High Court had earlier this month ruled that physiotherapist Beth Warren, 28, from Birmingham, could keep sperm placed in storage by husband Warren Brewer until 2060.

And regulator the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) today said it had decided not to challenge that ruling in the Court of Appeal.

"What's the best word you can think of? That's how I'm feeling," said Mrs Warren.

"I am literally shaking. I hadn't dare to believe it. I can move on with my life now. No more fighting. I will have a big smile on my face for a long, long time."

Mrs Warren had argued that a time limit imposed by the HFEA meant that she had little over a year to conceive using sperm stored by Mr Brewer - a ski instructor who died of cancer two years ago aged 32.

HFEA officials said they sympathised with Mrs Warren, who uses her late husband's first name as her surname, but said Mr Brewer had not given written consent to his sperm being stored beyond April 2015.

Judge Mrs Justice Hogg ruled in Mrs Warren's favour - after a High Court trial in London - and said sperm could be stored until 2060.

The judge said Mr Brewer had not given written consent ''as required'' by regulations. But she said she was satisfied that he would have done what was necessary had he been ''given the information'' and advised.

HFEA officials today said they had decided against an appeal after analysing legal and moral issues.

"Mrs Warren has obtained a declaration from the High Court which allows for her husband's sperm to remain in storage, so that she can have more time to think about her options for a family," said a HFEA spokeswoman.

"After carefully considering not just the legal issues, but also the moral ones, we have come to the conclusion that an appeal is not the right approach."

Sally Cheshire, interim chair of the HFEA added: "We know that the extra few days of uncertainty have been stressful for Mrs Warren, but we have tried to minimise that stress by making a decision as quickly as possible."

She went on: "We owed it to future patients to think carefully about the implications of a complex legal judgment. We didn't want Mrs Warren's deserving and highly unusual case to pave the way for other cases where the wishes of the deceased patient are much less clear."

Officials said they would write to fertility clinics to re-emphasise guidance "around the importance of written consent" and remind clinics of their "crucial role in documenting patients' wishes clearly".

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