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Birmingham widow can keep dead husband's sperm after fertilisation regulator says it won't appeal against High Court ruling

Delighted Beth Warren says: "I can move on with my life now."

Warren Brewer and Beth Warren in 2008.

A widow from Birmingham has won a legal fight to preserve her late husband's sperm after the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said it had decided not to challenge the High Court ruling in the Court of Appeal.

A High Court judge ruled last week that physiotherapist Beth Warren, 28, from Birmingham city centre, could keep the sperm until 2060.

Mrs Warren said a limit imposed by the HFEA meant that she had little over a year to conceive using sperm which her husband, Warren Brewer, a ski instructor who died of cancer two years ago aged 32, placed in storage.

HFEA officials said they sympathised with Mrs Warren, who uses her late husband's first name as her surname, but said Mr Brewer did not give written consent to his sperm being stored beyond April 2015.

Mrs Justice Hogg ruled in Mrs Warren's favour - after a High Court hearing in London - and said sperm could be stored until 2060.

She said Mr Brewer had not given written consent "as required" by regulations.

Nevertheless, she said she was satisfied that he would have done what was necessary had he been "given the information" and advised.

"The HFEA has decided not to lodge an appeal against the decision, " said a HFEA spokeswoman.

Beth Warren outside court with her mother Georgina Hyde (right), and her in-laws Kevin and Helen Brewer
Beth Warren outside court last week with her mother Georgina Hyde (right), and her in-laws Kevin and Helen Brewer
 

"Mrs Warren has obtained a declaration from the High Court which allows for her husband's sperm to remain in storage, so that she can have more time to think about her options for a family.

"After carefully considering not just the legal issues, but also the moral ones, we have come to the conclusion that an appeal is not the right approach."

Mrs Warren said: "What's the best word you can think of? That's how I'm feeling. I am literally shaking. I hadn't dare to believe it.

"I can move on with my life now. No more fighting. I will have a big smile on my face for a long, long time."

The HFEA spokeswoman added: "Given that the judgment acknowledges that there is no written consent to store Mr Brewer's sperm beyond 2015, we needed properly to consider the wider consequences for other patients, in particular those cases where there may be no consent to extended storage, and where the sperm provider's wishes are less clear than Mr Brewer's.

"We have concluded that the likelihood of future problems is not strong enough to warrant appealing in this case."

Sally Cheshire, interim chair of the HFEA said: "We know that the extra few days of uncertainty have been stressful for Mrs Warren, but we have tried to minimise that stress by making a decision as quickly as possible.

"Seeking leave to appeal may have appeared unsympathetic to Mrs Warren's very regrettable situation, but we owed it to future patients to think carefully about the implications of a complex legal judgment.

"We didn't want Mrs Warren's deserving and highly unusual case to pave the way for other cases where the wishes of the deceased patient are much less clear."

 

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