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Judge: Parents May Use Sperm of Late Son to Produce Children

West Point cadet had dreamed of having a family
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 20, 2019 5:15 PM CDT
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Peter L. Zhu was fatally injured in a skiing accident.   (United States Military Academy via AP, File)

(Newser) – The parents of a 21-year-old West Point cadet fatally injured in a skiing accident can use his frozen sperm to produce a child, a judge has ruled. New York Supreme Court Justice John Colangelo's ruling gives Peter Zhu's parents the ability to attempt conception with a surrogate mother, the AP reports. The judge said Zhu's parents have not decided whether they will try to use it. "At this time, the court will place no restrictions on the use to which Peter's parents may ultimately put their son's sperm, including its potential use for procreative purposes," Colangelo wrote. Zhu, of Concord, California, died after a ski accident at West Point. His parents received court permission to have his sperm retrieved and frozen at the same time he underwent organ donation surgery, but the judge waited until last week to rule on whether they could attempt reproduction. The sperm is preserved at a sperm bank.

Colangelo said he found no restrictions in state or federal law. He noted that few courts have addressed posthumous reproduction, but those that have used the decedent's intent as a deciding factor. Zhu left no written intention. But Colangelo said Zhu's parents testified regarding conversations in which he talked of his dream of having several children and the responsibility he felt to carry on his cultural and family legacy. Zhu's military adviser at West Point also testified that Zhu had stated a goal of having several children. Monica Minzhi Yao, Zhu's mother, said Monday that the family wants privacy and will not comment on the case. "We are extremely devastated over this freak accident," she said. "Our pain is something that no words can describe." And while Colangelo left the decision of what to do with Zhu's sperm up to his family, he noted there may be other obstacles, including reluctance of some doctors to assist for ethical reasons. (Zhu's parents raced the clock to get court permission to retrieve his sperm.)


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