Israel's Battle for the Sperm of the Dead: Hospitals on Round-the-Clock Duty

To maximize viability for future fertilization, sperm retrieval should occur within 24 hours of the individual's passing

by Sededin Dedovic
Israel's Battle for the Sperm of the Dead: Hospitals on Round-the-Clock Duty
© David Silverman / Getty Images

In an extraordinary move, Israel's Ministry of Health has granted parents the ability to bypass the usual legal procedures for collecting the sperm of their fallen soldier sons or sons of civilians who have lost their lives during times of war, just before their burial.

A recent report in the Israeli newspaper "Haaretz" revealed that in the past month, the sperm of 33 individuals were successfully retrieved. Of these, four were civilians, while the rest had served as soldiers in the conflict.

Ordinarily, posthumous sperm retrieval (PSR) is permitted at the request of a widow, avoiding the complexities of legal red tape. However, when parents desire the collection and preservation of their deceased son's sperm, they were formerly obliged to secure a court order from a family court.

The Ministry of Health has now temporarily lifted this requirement, as reported by The Times of Israel.

A dedicated unit, working round the clock, collaborates with the Israel Defense Forces and four sperm bank hospitals

The Ministry of Health has taken proactive steps by establishing a dedicated unit, working around the clock in collaboration with the Israel Defense Forces and four hospitals housing sperm banks.

Their goal is to promptly inform grieving families about the PSR option immediately following the tragic loss of their son or husband. It is critical to note that the retrieval of sperm must occur within a 24-hour window following the individual's passing to optimize its chances of viability when later used for fertilization.

This precise timing is paramount to ensure the procedure's success. Experts in the field have highlighted that PSR can still be performed a few days after death, even when the sperm is no longer motile. The Ministry of Health's initiative is a compassionate response to the unique circumstances of war, allowing grieving parents the opportunity to preserve a part of their loved one's legacy under these challenging conditions.

This decision underscores the government's commitment to easing the burden on bereaved families during times of conflict and loss.