No guidelines exist for sperm-banking in 'brain-dead' patien
Recently the doctors at the trauma centre of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) received an unusual request from the family of a 22-year-old brain dead man they were counselling to agree to donate his organs. The family was willing but insisted his sperm be retrieved and banked so it could be used for conception in the future.

This put the doctors in a fix because there are no guidelines on sperm retrieval from a brain-dead man. “Doctors got such a request for the first time, they didn’t know what was to be done. They consulted several departments within AIIMS, including reproductive biology and urology that handle infertility issues, but no one could offer clarity on the issue,” said a person at the hospital, requesting anonymity.

The patient was a resident of Jaunti village near Kanjhawala in north-west Delhi. He met with a road accident on August 19 in which he suffered a serious head injury. He had been at the AIIMS trauma centre since August 19 and was declared brain dead on August 25.

The issue was discussed across departments for three days. Finally, the patient died of a cardiac arrest in the neuro-intensive care unit of the hospital around 10am on Wednesday.

Globally, the few recorded cases of sperm retrieval from a brain-dead man had the consent of the wife. “He was unmarried; we can’t take a call until there are guidelines for sperm banking in brain dead patients,” said Deepak Agrawal, a professor in the neurosurgery department at AIIMS.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) does not have in place any India-specific guidelines on sperm-banking in the case of brain-dead patients.

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