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Surrogacy gives parents chance to have a longed-for grandson

Updated : 2018-04-13
By Li Lei | China Daily (chinadaily.com.cn)

The parents of a couple killed in a car crash five years ago finally have the grandson they longed for, after a surrogate carried to term a fertilized embryo deposited by the couple days before the accident.

The baby, known as Tiantian, was born in a hospital in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, in December after his grandparents won a yearlong court battle to use the embryo, Beijing News reported on Monday.

Shen Jie and his wife, Liu Xi, had been married two years and had been undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments at Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital in Jiangsu province at the time of their deaths in 2013.

As each was their family's only child, their parents asked the hospital to release the four frozen fertilized embryos the couple had prepared in order to transfer them to a surrogate mother. Hospital administrators refused for fear of breaching State regulations.

China's rules for assisted reproductive technology are unclear when it comes to the disposal of fertilized embryos that are not transferred to the biological mother. Surrogacy is illegal in China.

Shen and Liu's four parents filed lawsuits against the hospital, demanding the embryos. The first attempt failed, but a year later the Wuxi Intermediate People's Court ruled in their favor, saying that granting access complied with social ethics.

Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital agreed to release the embryos on condition that the four were accompanied by court personnel and with documents from another hospital willing to accept the embryos.

Ding Lijun, a doctor in the hospital's reproductive medicine center, told China Daily that although they were sympathetic with the aging parents, they were cautious about handing embryos to individuals.

"There are thresholds for practicing every technology, and without the threshold, which we must strictly abide by, the technology runs the risk of being abused," she said.

As no Chinese hospitals were able to accept the embryos, the couple's parents looked overseas for help and were eventually helped by a Chinese agency to transfer them to a hospital in neighboring Laos.

They paid 300,000 yuan ($44,000) to the agency, which also helped them find a 28-year-old Laotian surrogate mother, who carried the child in Laos before traveling to Guangzhou to give birth.

China Daily was unable to contact Tiantian's grandparents on Monday. However, Shen Jie's father, Shen Xinnan, who is caring for the child, told Beijing News: "I will tell Tiantian his story when he is older. He might have a difficult time in kindergarten explaining his circumstances."

lilei@chinadaily.com.cn

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