08 October 2007

The oldest sperm donor?

A 72-year-old British man is to donate his sperm to his daughter-in-law, allowing her to become a mother and produce a grandchild.

A 72-year-old British man is to donate his sperm to his daughter-in-law, allowing her to become a mother and produce a "grandchild", fertility authorities said on Friday.

The unnamed man is donating his sperm because his son and daughter-in-law's attempts at IVF treatment failed due to the poor quality of the husband's sperm, according to London's Evening Standard newspaper.

"It's not uncommon for someone in the family to donate, although normally the age limit for sperm donors is 45," said a spokeswoman for Britain's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which has advised the clinic overseeing the 72-year-old's donation.

"What's uncommon in this case is the donor's age."

The donated sperm is being handled by the London Women's Clinic, where the couple are having treatment.

Dr Peter Bowen-Simkins, a director of the clinic, told the Evening Standard the couple and the grandparents-to-be had undergone counselling to prepare them for the arrival of a child produced in such an unusual way.

"I've certainly never come across a case like this before," Bowen-Simkins told the paper.

"In this case, keeping the genetic 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."

Medical concerns
Experts said they had no ethical problems with the man donating his sperm, but did have medical concerns about the health of the child.

"What worries me are the genetic risks to the child because of the quality of the donor's sperm, given his age," said Dr Alan Pacey, a senior lecturer in andrology (male fertility) at Sheffield University.

Pacey said the man's age could reduce the chances of the donation working, increase the chances of the woman having a miscarriage and also increase the likelihood that the child produced inherits a genetic condition, such as autism, Down's Syndrome or dwarfism. – (Reuters Health)

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October 2007


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