Covid patient critical, his sperm collected after Gujarat HC grants wife’s plea

A private hospital in Vadodara on Wednesday collected and preserved the sperm of a man suffering from multi-organ failure following post-Covid complications, a day after the Gujarat High Court granted “ad interim relief” to his wife on her petition that she wanted to bear his child through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).

The 32-year-old man, who was hospitalised for Covid-19 on May 10, is on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) support. The couple have been married for over eight months.

The woman filed the petition on Monday, after doctors at Sterling Hospital in Vadodara, where he is undergoing treatment, reportedly informed the family that he “may not survive beyond 24 hours”. The patient’s wife and parents, through their counsel, Nilay Patel, had sought an urgent hearing on Tuesday.

According to the petition, the hospital authorities told the family that they needed a court order to collect and preserve the sperm as the patient was unconscious and incapable of giving informed consent. Patel contended that the hospital’s verbal refusal violated the rights of the patient’s wife.

Considering that the man was unconscious, the court agreed that getting his consent was “almost impossible”. In view of the “extraordinary circumstance”, the court directed the hospital director “to conduct IVF/ART procedure for collection of samples from the body of (the patient)… and the said sample shall be stored at an appropriate place as per the medical advice”.

The court noted that the “ad interim relief” had been granted “in an extraordinary urgent situation” and the “same shall be subject to the outcome of the petition”. The matter is set to be heard on July 23.

“The family is in trauma and they want to preserve the sperm so that his wife has the option of having a child after the High Court completes the hearing on July 23. They have been married for eight months. During his Covid treatment, he developed bilateral pneumonia and multi-organ failure. The hospital complied with the court order and preserved the sperm on Wednesday,” Patel told The Indian Express.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, Sterling Hospital zonal director Anil Nambiar, Chief Medical Officer Dr Jyoti Patankar, and Medical Administrator Dr Mayur Dodiya said the hospital had collected the patient’s sperm and preserved it at a lab in the city.

“Considering that recovery from the patient’s current condition of multi-organ failure was almost impossible, the same was conveyed to the family. The hospital is not in a position or legally empowered to extract the sperm of a person without his explicit consent. The moment the direction from the High Court was received, the process was completed and the sperm has been preserved for the family to pursue IVF treatment in the future. We are all with the family during this tough time,” the hospital said in a statement on Wednesday.

According to a friend of the family, the couple got married in October 2020 and were based in Canada. They returned to India in March this year, after the man’s father had a serious heart ailment.

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