Widow's frozen embryo case in High Court


Samantha Jefferies

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Samantha Jefferies on the beach where she used to walk with her husband Clive

The widow of a Falklands war veteran who is trying to prevent the destruction of their frozen embryos takes her fight to the High Court on Wednesday.

Samantha Jeffries, from East Sussex, said she just wants “to be a mum” and the embryos are her “last chance” of having her dead husband’s child.

Her husband Clive died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage in 2014 aged 51.

Written consent for the storage of their remaining embryos has expired.

Embryos, like sperm and eggs, can be stored for a maximum of 10 years before couples must renew their written consent.

Failed cycles

Mr and Mrs Jefferies had NHS funding for three cycles of IVF, which covered the costs of storing embryos for two years.

They had ticked the box to consent to 10 years embryo storage but were asked by their clinic, Sussex Downs Fertility Centre, to change it to two years because that was the limit of their NHS funding.

The couple had two cycles of IVF which were unsuccessful.

Clive Jefferies served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and was on board the transport ship Sir Galahad when it was bombed in the Falklands in 1982, killing 48 men.

He later worked as a nurse.

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S Jefferies

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Clive Jefferies served in the Royal Army Medical Corps

When Mr Jefferies died suddenly in April 2014, the couple had been about to have their last cycle of IVF treatment.

In early 2015 Mrs Jefferies received a letter from the clinic saying that consent for the embryo storage would expire that August.

The law states that embryos cannot legally be stored once consent has expired.

‘I want to be a mum’

But Mrs Jeffries says she does not want to be denied the last chance to have her late husband’s child by “bureaucracy”.

She told the Today programme: “It’s pure red tape. They (the embryos) are going to be allowed to perish, which would be the worst case scenario.

“I want to be a mum and I want my husband’s children. We chose each other… based on lots of reasons… when two people fall in love.

“He was a wonderful man and I’d like to continue to have his children.”

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Clive and Samantha were married in 2007

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) wrote to all IVF clinics in 2012 urging them not to restrict embryo storage to two or three years.

It said the policy risked “causing significant distress” in the event of a patient dying and urged them to allow couples to store embryos for 10 years, even if their funding ran out sooner.

The Sussex Downs Fertility Centre has since changed its policy to match that recommended by the HFEA allowing couples to store embryos for 10 years.

The clinic said its previous policy had not been driven purely by financial concerns but also because of the desire to maintain regular contact with couples. It is supporting the case brought by Mrs Jefferies and paying her legal costs.


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