Semen extraction from corpses: ethical considerations

More on the morality of semen extraction from the Androlog. I thought this was interesting for two reasons: first, in nursing, you don't often hear doctors talking about patient advocacy; second, this brings up a real patient/family services and education issue, not to mention palliative care...
Androlog Mail

{Regarding Grace Centola's question about cadaveric sperm retrieval,}

In 1978, as a clinical instructor at UCLA, I was asked to retrieve sperm from a prominent politician's son who was on life support awaiting organ donation. In 1980, I published 'Method of Obtaining Viable Sperm in the Postmortem State' in Fertility and Sterility and over the past 30 years, at the request of grieving families, I've performed or facilitated in the retrieval of approximately 50 postmortem procedures.

When I receive a phone call from a grieving family in tremendous pain due to the untimely loss of a husband and/or son and who can be comforted and given hope by sperm retrieval, in the spirit of the Hippocratic Oath to decrease pain and suffering, I facilitate their request. Conditions of refusal are based on a family member's opposition or if the deceased had previously had a vasectomy.

To date, out of the approximate 50 postmortem requests I've been involved with, only 2 wives wanted to retrieve their husband's sperm and both had normal children with IVF/ICSI. I would recommend to proceed immediately with postmortem retrieval but inform the families there may be some objections to its use. Very rarely will the sperm be used but giving families hope and decreasing pain is always a kind and healing opportunity for a physician.

Lawyers, judges and ethicists do not have patients. It is our duty as physicians to be an advocate for our patients in need.

Cappy, M.D.

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