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Mother harvests dead son’s sperm–hopes to find surrogate mother

Mother harvests dead son's spermIt’s every mother’s worst nightmare: losing a child.

On April 5, that’s what happened to Missy Evans when her son, Nikolas, died. He had been hit in a street fight about a week earlier in a town near Dallas, Texas.. But the punch knocked him to the ground, and Nikolas, 21, hit his head.

Thus ended Nikolas’s dreams of going to college, his love for filmmaking, old movies, music and politics. And alas, his untimely death dashed his hopes for having three sons. “Someone took that away from him,” said Evans, 42.

Now, his mother thinks she has found a solution to helping Nikolas’s dreams live on: she harvested his sperm.

Evans’s plan is to find a surrogate mother to carry her son’s offspring–whom he had already named–but she will raise them herself. “He would love me so much for doing this,” she said.

Experts in medical ethics–and a lot of other people–have raised an eyebrow or two. It’s not uncommon for parents who have lost a child to want to replace him or her with another baby of their own. This is just an unusual twist on that replacement child. Tom Mayo, the director of Southern Methodist University’s Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, is concerned about the situation for the child. “That child’s biological father will be dead. The mother may be an egg donor, anonymous or gestational surrogate… This is a tough way for a kid to come into the world. As the details emerge and the child learns more about their origins, I just wonder what the impact will be on a replacement child.” One professor of philosophy and religion says it’s one thing to be certain he wanted children. It’s another thing entirely to assume he would want his mother to raise his children born from an unknown mother.

But Evans doesn’t care if other people disagree with her decision to harvest her dead son’s sperm. She believes it’s what Nikolas would have wanted. And, her ex-husband and other members of the family concurred.

The court agreed that she could do it. And no one officially opposed the plan. So Nikolas’s body was kept at a chilly 39.2 degrees until a urologist from Austin voluntarily collected the specimen, which she believed were mostly viable.

I was surprised to learn that this has been done many times before. According to Art Caplan, chair of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, harvesting a dead father/brother/husband/boyfriend’s sperm has been done about a thousand times in the last ten years. And there aren’t really any laws about it–just ethics.

And since the decision has to be made so quickly, many of the people who collect the sperm don’t end up using it. They go through the grieving process and realize later that it isn’t a good idea. Right now, Missy Evans doesn’t have the plan worked out–but she is sure she won’t change her mind, even if it takes her last penny to go through with it.

I feel for Ms. Evans. I can’t imagine losing my son. But I would never, ever make such a decision for him. My initial reaction to this story was that she was really bizarre. But now I have relaxed that opinion a bit. I think she must be absolutely distraught and doesn’t know the best way to ensure her son’s legacy. I expect that Ms. Evans will change her mind after she has sorted through her feelings. What do you think?

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