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Family wanted dying woman's eggs kept

July 15, 2010 at 2:51 PM   |   Comments

BOSTON, July 15 (UPI) -- The family of a dying woman asked Boston doctors to keep her alive so her eggs could be harvested and she could become a mother posthumously, observers said.

For the doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital, considering the request meant a voyage into uncharted ethical and moral grounds, the Boston Globe reported Thursday.

The unidentified woman, the victim of a massive heart attack, had been removed from life support when her family asked doctors to replace the breathing tube and attempt to harvest the eggs.

"What they asked us to do made us very uncomfortable," Dr. David Greer, one of the specialists who treated the woman, said, "and forced us to think about what is the right thing to do here, what is the ethical thing."

Weighing the medical consequences of an experimental procedure with no guarantee of success, the doctors discovered the unconscious woman had never spoken of a desire to have children.

And they agreed that harvesting eggs could hasten her death.

Ultimately, the doctors decided they could not justify the procedure on medical grounds, a decision accepted by the woman's husband.

Although the woman's case was two years ago, doctors are recounting the case now through an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in hopes of guiding others in reproductive medicine, a field in which evolving technology allowing eggs, embryos and sperm to be frozen for later use is pushing the boundaries of what is possible, the Globe reported.

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