In a rare case out of Jiangsu province, a court rejected grandparents’ requests to inherit four frozen embryos that were left behind by a couple who had died in a car crash.
China Daily reports tat the couple had planned to have embryo transplantation surgery at Nanjing’s Gulou Hospital in March of last year, but died four days ahead of the surgery.
Plaintiff Shen, who lost his only child and daughter-in-law in the car accident, filed a lawsuit against the hospital after it refused to transfer the frozen embryos. To gain control of the embryos, he and his wife also sued the parents of their daughter-in-law, also an only child.
A court in Yixing ruled that embryos obtained through surgery cannot be inherited or transferred, and refused to hand them over to either set of parents.
“Also, the embryos can only be used by the couple to have babies and cannot be donated or sold according to Chinese laws,” Judge Lu Yaqin said. “Since the couple are dead, the embryos can no longer be implanted.”
“The only way to keep the embryos alive after removing them from liquid nitrogen at the temperature of -196 C is to have them implanted into a surrogate mother, but that is against the law in China,” said Zheng Zhelan, the hospital’s lawyer.
Zheng said that while the hospital had the ability to preserve embryos for years, the couple had signed a document back in 2012 saying that they could be destroyed one year later. This was only put off pending the outcome of the case.
Shen said that he wants to appeal to a higher court to get the embryos and wait for the country to end its surrogacy ban.
“Those embryos are our only hope, and we cannot lose them,” he said.