Widow wins right to keep frozen embryos stored at Eastbourne clinic

Samantha Jefferies
Samantha Jefferies

The widow of a Falklands War veteran has won her High Court bid to keep the embryos she and her late husband created.

Samantha Jefferies, 42, said it was ‘just brilliant’ she had won her case.

A hearing at the high Court in london was heard yesterday (Wednesday, September 28).

Mrs Jefferies and 51-year-old Clive, who died two years ago, were undergoing fertility treatment when he suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2014.

The couple had two rounds of IVF and were due to have one more.

Their embryos were being stored frozen at Sussex Downs Fertility Centre in Eastbourne.

Mrs Jefferies was then told the embryos had to be destroyed because a two-year storage period had expired.

This was despite the couple signing consent forms for 10 years’ storage and posthumous use of embryos.

She said they were asked by the clinic to change it to two years, due to NHS funding limits.

Mrs Jefferies, who lives in Winchelsea Beach, said: “I was fighting for my right to be a mum and also for other women of a certain age to challenge the stereotypes and to say it’s okay to be a mother in later life. The judge found out about my late husband via Google because he wanted to put a face to a piece of paper.”

Fertility clinics can store embryos, sperm and eggs for up to 10 years.

Sussex Downs Fertility Centre has since changed its policy and supported Mrs Jefferies’ application.

Her late husband served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and was on board the transport ship Sir Galahad when it was bombed in the Falklands in 1982, killing 48 men.

Mrs Jefferies’ solicitor, James Lawford-Davies, of London legal firm Hempsons, said: “I’m delighted for her and just sorry she had to go to court to fight for the right to use the embryos in storage which no one ever questioned her right to use.”

Under guidelines, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has been advising IVF clinics since 2012 not to restrict embryo storage. Peter Thompson, the body’s chief executive, warns it could cause ‘significant distress’ in the event of a patient dying and urged clinics to allow couples to store embryos for 10 years.

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