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Last Chance at Grandchildren: A Request for Perimortem Sperm Harvesting


  • Stephen S. Hanson,

  • Annie-Laurie Auden


An anxious resident paged ethics at 2:00 a.m. His patient, Mr. M, a twenty-nine-year-old man with a history of multiple substance abuse, was in the hospital after cardiac arrest and lack of cerebral perfusion. Sadly, the young man probably met the criteria for brain death, but the final apnea test to confirm the diagnosis could not be done for another forty-eight to seventy-two hours because the Klonopin in his system might confound the results. The resident's concern, however, addressed a request made by the patient's mother for a sperm harvest.

The patient's mother maintained that her son had said he wanted to give her grandchildren. She wished to harvest sperm from him for a future use with an as-yet-to-be-determined surrogate mother.