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Parents Are Using Deceased Son’s Sperm to Make Sure He Becomes a Father

It was his dying wish.


The parents of Peter Zhu, a West Point cadet who was killed in a skiing accident last week, are hoping to make their son’s dream of becoming a dad come true. On Friday morning, Yongmin and Monica Zhu petitioned a New York state court for permission to retrieve their deceased son’s sperm before his organs were removed later that afternoon.

According to Zhu’s parents, the 21-year-old, who was declared brain-dead on February 27 but kept alive until March 1 because he was an organ donor, had always wanted to have five kids.

“Our son’s dying wish was to become a father and to bring children into this world,” Zhu’s parents said in the filing, asking the State Supreme Court “not to further devastate our family by eliminating the possibility of preserving some piece of our child that might live on.”

They added, “In addition to retrieving Peter’s organs to donate to others in need, we are seeking to retrieve sperm from Peter’s body in order to preserve Peter’s reproductive genetic material… This is our one and only chance of fulfilling Peter’s wishes and preserving his incredible legacy.”

Justice John P. Colangelo approved the family’s request, requiring the Westchester Medical Center to “to a sperm bank or similar facility of Petitioners’ choosing for storage until further Order of this Court regarding the disposition of such sperm.,” the New York Times reports. A second hearing will be held on March 21 to determine how the sperm can be used.

The Associated Press notes that the first post-humous sperm removal was done in 1980, with the first baby conceived from such a procedure born in 1999. And in 2018, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine published guidelines for retrieving reproductive tissues (like sperm) after death, recommending that it only be allowed if the deceased authorized it in writing or if the request is from a spouse or partner.