Science & Engineering

Judge says parents may use frozen sperm of deceased cadet son to produce child

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The parents of a West Point, New York, cadet who died in a skiing incident can use his preserved sperm as they see fit, including for “procreative purposes,” a New York judge has ruled.

Judge John Colangelo of Westchester County ruled last week that he would place no restrictions on use of the sperm by the parents of 21-year-old cadet Peter Zhu, report the Associated Press and NBC. Colangelo said the parents had not yet decided whether to use the sperm to produce a child with a surrogate mother.

Zhu’s parents had obtained an order to preserve the sperm in March, while their son was on life support to allow the harvesting of his organs for donation.

Zhu was declared brain-dead Feb. 27, four days after the skiing incident at the Victor Constant Ski Area near the West Point military academy.

The parents said in court papers that their son had dreamed of having five children. “We are desperate to have a small piece of Peter that might live on and continue to spread the joy and happiness that Peter bought to all of our lives,” their legal filing said.

Colangelo said he found no restrictions in state or federal law on use of the sperm. Courts that have addressed the issue have looked to the intent of the person who died, he said.

Zhu’s parents and his military adviser at West Point had testified that Zhu wanted several children. The military adviser said Zhu had stated this goal during mentoring sessions, according to the AP story.

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