(CNN)Sperm donations from dead men is "ethically permissible," say doctors seeking to tackle the shortage of living donors in the UK.
Men should be allowed to donate sperm after death, study says
A study published in the Journal of Medical Ethics Monday proposed that men should be able to "register their desire to donate their sperm after death for use by strangers."
Such a procedure would be similar to organ donation, authors Dr. Nathan Hodson of the University of Leicester and Dr. Joshua Parker of Manchester's Wythenshawe Hospital wrote in the study.
"If it is morally acceptable that individuals can donate their tissues to relieve the suffering of others in 'life-enhancing transplants' for diseases, we see no reason this cannot be extended to other forms of suffering like infertility, which may or may not also be considered a disease," the study says.
The mechanics of donating, they say, are entirely feasible through either electroejaculation or surgical methods.
Sperm would be cryopreserved following collection and thawed when chosen for reproduction, the authors said.
Scientists said that harvesting sperm after death has been possible for many years and there is evidence that it can be used in reproduction. Sperm retrieved even up to 48 hours after death can result in viable pregnancies and healthy children, they said.
The process would address the ongoing shortage of donor sperm in the UK, argue the authors, which has led to Britain importing commercially donated sperm to cope with demand from couples struggling to conceive.
In 2017, an estimated 4,000 samples were imported from the US and another 3,000 from Denmark, according to the UK's Department of Health and Social Care.