Biological will

Three weeks ago, in Israel was born the first child conceived through the sperm of a man who had died of cancer six years ago, leaving no instructions regarding the right to dispose of his genetic material, which he had put in a special bank before the course of chemotherapy.

The newborn’s mother had never seen the father of her child. The woman who had been long dreaming of getting pregnant, but did not wish to turn to sperm banks was found by grieving parents who had lost their only son because of cancer.

The parents of the deceased considered themselves entitled to use the sperm of their son to conceive grandchildren and began to look for a candidate for the role of the mother of the child.


Four years ago, fate brought them together with a 31-year-old woman who had been long dreaming of becoming a mother, but didn’t want to use the material of anonymous donors. The parties quickly agreed, but there was a problem of a legal character. It was found that the deceased hadn’t left a written authorization for the use of his sperm for fertilization.

Then the three of them went to the office of a famous attorney Irit Rosenblum, executive director of the Israeli organization "New Family", which has been dealing with the so-called biological wills for more than 12 years already.

The lawyer has agreed to defend the interests of the family in this delicate matter. The Court didn’t object to the use of the sperm of the deceased for fertilization, and some time later the parents learned that soon they would become grandparents.

Irit Rosenblum believes that this is good news for parents who lost their children, and for single women, for whom the procedure opens the new ways of motherhood without a partner. In addition, they will no longer have to hide the truth about their origins from their children, as they have to in the case of an anonymous donation - these babies will grow up knowing their origins and having the opportunity to communicate with the relatives.

Strictly speaking, the idea of biological wills isn’t new - the abovementioned organization, "New Family" headed by Irit Rosenblum takes care of the project since 2001, when the lawyer developed a document allowing to use the biomaterial of a person (sperm or egg) for fertilization in the case of his/her death. In this case, the donors pay for keeping their material for being able to "extend themselves" after the death.

For the moment, the "biological testament" was signed by about 600 people. Some of them have expressed a desire to have their sperm or eggs removed from their bodies immediately after the death (this is possible within 72 hours after death). Others have previously placed their genetic material into a special bank of sperm and egg cells. To date, 15 children have already been born from the sperm of the dead fathers.

So far, such a practice exists only in Israel. Despite the obvious advantages, the procedure has serious legal loopholes. First of all - the lack of anonymity for the donor. In the case of the "willed" semen the woman knows the data of the "grantor". And there may be some legal issues. For example, will the child be entitled to inherit the estate of his father, with whom his mother has never even seen?

However, I think the game is worth the candle. We, by the way, have long been offering to provide free storage of sperm for the persons of dangerous professions who are in the civil service, for the period of their official duties. In my point of view benefit for the state both reputational and demographic is awesome.