Fri, Sep 09, 2005 - Page 2 News List

DOH rejects widow's plea to harvest husband's sperm


Li Hsin-yu, left, the widow of Army Captain Sun Chi-hsiang, yesterday begs Minister of National Defense Lee Jye, right, to help her get permission to use her husband's sperm for artificial insemination. She made the appeal at when Lee visited the family in Taichung. Lee said that he would do his best to help her.


The Department of Health (DOH) has refused to make an exception for a newlywed who begged to be allowed to harvest sperm from her dead husband's body.

Army Captain Sun Chi-hsiang (孫吉祥) died in a hospital on Wednesday after being injured when the armored vehicle he was driving suddenly accelerated and crashed.

Since Sun was an only son and a newlywed, his parents and wife urged doctors to harvest his sperm so that his wife could try to have a baby through in-vitro fertilization.

The doctors told the widow, Li Hsin-yu (李幸育), that according to the law governing artificial insemination, a man's sperm must be destroyed after his death and that they could not help her unless a special permit was issued.

The department said that it was not willing to set a precedent by making an exception for Li.

Su Shu-chen (蘇淑貞), a eugenics official at the department, said Sun's doctors had asked for special permission, but the spirit of the law is to help infertile couples.

"Since Sun Chi-hsiang has died, there are no provisions in the law that allow us to grant such a request," she said.

Su said that even if doctors had been able to legally retrieve some sperm for Li, in-vitro fertilization for her would be illegal.

Dr. Lee Mao-sheng (李茂盛), gynecologist, said there is a 50 percent to 60 percent chance of success with in-vitro fertilization if the sperm is harvested within 24 hours after a man dies.

After 24 hours, the success rate will drop by 10 percent, he said, and after 48 hours, the procedure is no longer practical.

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