Winchelsea widow’s High Court battle

Samantha Jefferies
Samantha Jefferies

A widow is preparing to launch a High Court battle to prevent frozen embryos she and her late husband created from being destroyed.

Samantha Jefferies, 42, and 51-year-old Clive, who died two years ago, were undergoing fertility treatment when he suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2014.

The couple had two rounds of IVF and were due to have one more. Their embryos were being stored frozen at Sussex Downs Fertility Centre in Eastbourne.

But the embryos they created could be destroyed because of laws regarding fertility treatment.

Fertility clinics can store embryos, sperm and eggs for up to 10 years.

Samantha, of Winchelsea Beach, said she and her late husband originally signed forms allowing theirs to be stored for 10 years.

But she added the couple were asked by their clinic to change it to two, due to NHS funding limits.

Samantha, an independent occupational therapist, said: “We tried for at least 14 years to have children so it would be a dream come true to have children. It’s my human right.

“My friend said if there could be another Clive and Samantha in the world that could only be a good thing.

“It’s unquestionable that Clive would have wanted me to use those embryos to have our children.

“If I had had a successful IVF treatment and had one or two children it means they are now preventing me from having more. It seems crazy.”

Under guidelines, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has been advising IVF clinics for the last four years not to restrict embryo storage.

Peter Thompson, the body’s chief executive, warns it could cause ‘significant distress’ in the event of a patient dying and urged IVF clinics to allow couples to store embryos for 10 years, ‘particularly in circumstances where individuals have life-threatening illnesses’.

Solicitor James Lawford-Davies, of London legal firm Hempsons, is fighting Samantha’s case on her behalf.

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