April 01, 2018

Test-Tube Parents: Cyropreservation and the Fertile Corpse - A Retrospective

 In April of 1983, Mario and Elsa Rios of Los Angeles, California, died in a plane crash. They had two cryopreserved embryos created in 1981 from her eggs and anonymous donor sperm. The embryos were kept in storage at the Queen Victoria Medical Center in Melbourne, Australia.

Following their deaths, considerable debate arose in ethical,  religious,  and  legal circles as to what to do with the cryopreserved embryos. The situation was remarkable, as it raised several ethical, legal, and religious questions regarding the technology involved in live birth following in vitro fertilization (IVF), cryopreservation, thawing, and embryo transfer, which had not yet been shown to be successful (the first live birth from a cryospreserved embryo was in 1984). Several people expressed an interest in acquiring the embryos, possibly because the Rios estate was sizable and those interested may have believed that subsequent children might be heirs to it.

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