Battle looms over dead man's genital tissue

Tony Deane and Leith Dorene Patteson (Facebook)
Tony Deane and Leith Dorene Patteson (Facebook)

The family of a New Zealander who died in Australia say they'll fight his former fiancée if she tries to use his sperm extracted after his death.

Tony Deane died in Toowoomba in April and after he passed away his fiancee Leith Patteson successfully sought a court order to have part of his genital tissue removed in case she chose to have a child later on.

Australian lawyer Bill Munro says Mr Deane's parents are very upset.

"They didn't know her. By any test it was a very short relationship. I think [the couple] first actually met in person in October 2015, and by the 18th of April 2016 the poor fella had died."

Ms Patteson only met Mr Deane's parents when they flew over to visit him in Australia in the days before he died, according to Mr Munro.

He adds that the family did allow the matter to go to court before the body was flown home.

"They were never happy with the concept at all, but were prepared to cooperate with the court. Their view is there shouldn’t be any further dealings with the tissue, and they don’t think it’s appropriate for an IVF programme [to take place]."

Mr Munro says it’s an unusual case, and that he’s only ever heard of two occasions when an order for genital tissue to be harvested has been successful, but has never head of fertilization being allowed to go ahead.

"I've been practicing law in Queensland since 1978, and I’ve never seen this sort of thing."

Mr Munro says the woman hasn't tried to get an order to use the tissue yet, but says the whole saga has added extra grief to the loss of their son.

The harvested tissue remains in a fertilization clinic.