Gamete retrieval in terminal conditions.


There has been a growing interest and requests by patients facing intensive chemotherapy or surgically ablative procedures for gamete retrieval and preservation for future procreative efforts. There are technical difficulties in this area but little ethical discomfort. More troubling are the issues that arise with a terminally ill, incapable patient-one who is in a persistent vegetative state or who is declared brain dead or who is neurologically devastated with no hope for recovery, but not yet in either of the above states-or with a person who has suddenly died. In these cases, the surviving spouse, partner, or family members may request gamete retrieval for future reproductive efforts. Discussion of this topic within the Ethics Consultation Service at the University of Virginia demonstrated a need for development of insight derived from facts and ethical deliberation to help formulate a policy that would apply to such cases. A group was assembled with the expertise to explore the issue and to help formulate a policy that could be suggested for adoption by the hospital administration. The group consisted of a urologist with experience in sperm retrieval from terminally ill patients; the director of the laboratory supporting the assisted reproductive facility in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; the chairperson of the Ethics Consultation Service (who is also a neonatologist); and 2 members of the Ethics Consultation Service, one a genetic counselor and the other an obstetrician-gynecologist with a master's degree in biomedical ethics. Current literature was reviewed, the expertise of the urological member and the reproductive laboratory director was explored, and the insight of the members of the Ethics Consultation Service was added. We explored the technical aspects of both male and female gamete retrieval and preservation and the reproductive potential of these stored gametes. We present a review of the current literature on both the technical and ethical aspects of the topic. Finally, we present a policy that we deem acceptable for adoption and that should be of value to other practitioners and facilities as they contemplate facing requests for gamete retrieval.

Cite this paper

@article{Finnerty2001GameteRI, title={Gamete retrieval in terminal conditions.}, author={James J Finnerty and Troy S. Thomas and References J M Boyle and Stuart S . Howards and Logan B. Karns}, journal={American journal of obstetrics and gynecology}, year={2001}, volume={185 2}, pages={300-7} }