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Widower fights for the right to use embryos created with his wife

Ted Jennings from London is fighting for the right to use the last remaining frozen embryo created by himself and his deceased wife, to try and conceive through surrogacy.  When someone freezes eggs, sperm or embryos, they provide written and signed consent which confirms what they want to happen if they die. This sets out whether they can continue to be stored or used. Timing is therefore critical, as once that person has died, it is very difficult to prove their intentions if there are issues with the consent they have given, leaving those left behind in a very difficult position if they wish to continue storing or use the gametes or embryos in treatment.

The Family Division of the High Court heard on Thursday that surrogacy was the couple’s “plan B” if IVF treatment was unsuccessful. The difficulty that Mr Jennings faces is that before his wife’s sudden death in 2019, she had not expressly consented to the embryos being used to conceive through surrogacy in the event of her death. Although Mr Jennings was expressly asked to confirm his position in respect of post-death storage and use, his wife was not asked an equivalent question. Instead, the information presented to Ms Choya was more ambiguous and simply posed that she should seek more information from the clinic if she wanted her eggs or embryos to be used in someone else’s treatment after her death.   It is Mr Jennings’ case that they were not given sufficient opportunity to provide the required consent and in any event, her intentions were clear.

Mr Jennings’ case will now be determined by a Family Division Judge, Mrs Justice Theis. This heart-breaking case highlights the importance of fertility patients being properly informed and aware of the profound impact that consent forms can have on their plans to start a family. 

A man whose wife died while pregnant with twins after fertility treatment is fighting for the right to use their last remaining frozen embryo to try to have a baby with a surrogate, in a groundbreaking legal case.

Ted Jennings, 38, from London, says he is certain that is what his wife, Fern-Marie Choya, would have wanted. But the fertility regulator says this would be unlawful because Choya did not consent to posthumous surrogacy before her sudden death in 2019, while pregnant with twin girls.”