A 72-year-old grandfather will be allowed to act as a sperm donor for his infertile son and daughter-in-law, effectively making any resulting child his father's biological half brother. Although theoretically not illegal, according to the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority, is thought that this is the only time such a case has arisen the UK.
The decision to allow the couple to use the grandfather as a sperm donor follows many months of consultation with independent bodies and ethics committees, says Kamal Ahuja, co-medical director of the London Women's Clinic where the couple are being cared for.
Ahuja believes that the couple's wish to have a child that is similar to their own identity is understandable. 'We have made the decision on the basis that the couple have special requirements in that the donor sperm in not acceptable to them', he told the Guardian. 'That applies to many, many groups of people - some religions [such as Islam] don't condone the use of donor sperm. In this particular case there was a mixture of reasons'.
However the national sperm donation programme accepts only men aged under 45, raising concerns over the increased risks of miscarriage and genetic mutation associated with the raised paternal age. Allan Pacey, of the British Fertility Society, told the Times: 'I am sure the couple will have been apprised of the risks, but in my view this is unwise. There is a very real possibility that this will not work, and the chances of miscarriage are also raised. The chances of a genetic defect or illness become greater too. You could say that if everybody is happy they should go ahead, but God forbid if there if there's a child born with a problem. It would be delicate to explain to that child that it might be the result of its grandfather's 72-year-old sperm'.
According to the BBC, the couple, who are in their 30's and have chosen to remain anonymous, have not yet decided whether they will tell the child the true identify of his or her biological father, although the clinic is positively encouraging them to do so.
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72-year-old sperm donor to father his own grandchild