The Supreme Court has ruled that the parents of the cadet who accidentally died in February are authorized to resort to surrogacy to get a descendant from their son’s sperm, which had been frozen from the time of the accident. Peter Zhu, 21, was a student at West Point, a prestigious military school in the United States. He died last February from a skiing accident. His parents, who are Chinese, were even more devastated by Peter’s death as he was not only the only son, but also the only male grandson of his grandfather. He therefore had the special mission of “perpetuating his cultural and family heritage” (cf. After their son’s accidental death, a Chinese couple ask for his sperm to produce a new heir).
The guidelines published in 2018 by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine regarding the posthumous collection and use of gametes for reproductive purposes specifically state that “this may be justifiable if the deceased has authorized it in writing”, or, failing that, at the request of a surviving spouse or companion. Peter Zhu left no written instructions, but John Colangelo, the Supreme Court judge who issued the ruling, explained that Zhu’s parents “testified about conversations where he talked about his dream of having many children, and the responsibility he felt to perpetuate his cultural and family heritage”. His professors at West Point confirmed that Peter had repeatedly stated his desire to have children later in life. The judge found that these testimonies had the same value as written authorization from Peter Zhu, and authorized his parents to make use of his frozen sperm, which was being stored at a sperm bank.
The judge only remarked on a few “potential ethical considerations”, as well as the possible “reluctance of some doctors for ethical reasons” to help perform a post-mortem conception with surrogate mother.
For further reading:
Huffington Post (20/05/2019) – Parents Of Dead West Point Cadet Can Use His Sperm To Produce Child, Judge Says