Dead Woman's Ova Harvested After Court Okays Family Request

Family of Hen Aida Ayish who was fatally injured in a car accident a week-and-a-half ago requests that her eggs be extracted and frozen after donating her organs for transplant.

For the first time in Israel, eggs have been harvested from a dead woman who donated her organs.

Chen Aida Ayash, a 17-year-old resident of the Sharon region, was hit by a car while crossing a street in Kfar Sava about 10 days ago. She died last Wednesday, after a week in Kfar Sava's Meir Hospital, and her family decided to donate her organs.

Hen Aida Ayish

The organs were transplanted into four recipients last Thursday. At the same time, her family obtained an order from the Kfar Sava Magistrate's Court to allow her eggs to be harvested and frozen.

This is the first time an Israeli court has approved harvesting a dead woman's ova. A medical source familiar with the case said the family had originally wanted to fertilize the eggs with donated sperm and freeze them as embryos, since frozen embryos have a greater chance of ultimately producing a child than eggs frozen before fertilization. But the hospital refused to fertilize the ova without a court order, and for now, the court decided to only permit their harvesting, not their fertilization - though they could still be fertilized at a later stage.

The Health Ministry said the court did not seek its opinion on the case.

Israeli law is silent on the issue of harvesting ova from a dead woman, as this matter was not included in a new law on egg donation that took effect in February. The law is clearer regarding sperm: An attorney general's order issued in 2003 states that only a spouse has an automatic right to harvest sperm from a dead man and use it to fertilize an egg; parents who wish to harvest their son's sperm must obtain a court order.

Chen's older sister, Noy, declined to comment on the family's decision to harvest her ova, but urged others to also donate their loved one's organs, "because the organs of people who are brain dead can save the lives of other people."