Woman wins the right to access her deceased husband’s sperm

1 July 2019
Jodylee Bartal, Partner, Melbourne Jason Walker, Partner, Melbourne

A Queensland woman has won the right to access her deceased husband’s sperm following a recent decision by the Queensland Supreme Court.

Mrs Gaffney and her husband had been married for five years when Mr Gaffney died in November 2018. The couple had an 18 month old son and had recently begun consulting a fertility specialist in the hope of having a second child, when Mr Gaffney died unexpectedly.

Mr Gaffney’s spermatozoa was extracted the day after his death and was placed in storage, following verbal consent from a Queensland coroner.

Pursuant to Part 3 of the Transplantation and Anatomy Act 1979 (QLD), a coroner’s consent for the removal of tissue from the body of a deceased person is required in certain circumstances. Whilst a corner may give verbal consent, this consent must be confirmed in writing within seven days.

As the coroner’s consent did not comply with the legislative requirements, Mrs Gaffney was required to make an Application to the Supreme Court to possess and utilise her late husband’s testicular tissue.

In granting Mrs Gaffney’s application Justice Susan Brown found that Mrs Gaffney had ‘carefully and rationally’ considered the decision to have a second child.


Gadens’ Partner Jodylee Bartal and Senior Associate Elizabeth Weldon, both Accredited Specialists in Family Law, have extensive experience in advising clients on:

  1. International commercial surrogacy
  2. Altruistic surrogacy
  3. Disputes in relation to parentage
  4. Disputes in relation to storage of, and access to, frozen embryos, eggs and spermatozoa.

Gadens invite you to contact our Family Law & Relationships Team if you have any queries in relation to assisted reproductive technology law.

Authored by:

Eleni Martakis, Lawyer

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

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