Woman loses fight for sperm after boyfriend dies unexpectedly

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. -- It was a race against time.  A Highlands Ranch woman is devastated after she was unable to retrieve sperm, after her boyfriend died unexpectedly.

After seven years of dating, Kate Criswell and Tom Alexander were trying to have a baby. But two weeks ago, Tom suffered some heart problems and had pacemaker surgery at St Anthony Hospital in Lakewood.

Then on Sunday, the 39 year old suffered a complication and died.

“They don`t know what happened. We don’t know if it was a blood clot.  They are doing an autopsy, but we don’t know.  We thought he was on the mend and then that happened,” Criswell said through tears.

Heartbroken, she still wanted to have his child.  She, and Tom’s parents, asked to have his sperm retrieved after his death. There is nothing in Colorado law that prohibits this, but it was hard to find a urologist to perform the procedure because Tom had not provided consent.

“We don't have specific laws regarding post mortem sperm retrieval. We don`t have that. Most hospitals have policies that generally don`t allow it.  Doctors follow codes of ethics that don`t allow them to take organs without certain consent," said attorney Ellen Trachman.

Criswell eventually found a doctor who would have performed the procedure, but he was not able to process the sperm so that it could be taken to a Cryobank in California.

Sperm is only viable for a short time after death, and every road block ate away at Kate’s chances, until it was too late.

She now hopes to work with hospitals to establish protocols, and to encourage other people to write wills and medical directives.

“You think, this is never going to happen to me. Do it anyway.  And make sure that  if you are thinking about having kids, get something in writing right now, because you never know.  We had no idea this was ever going to happen to him at the age of 39,” Criswell said.

If you want to learn more about advanced directives, resources are available at nhdd.org.

In addition, Centura Neighborhood Health Centers offer free classes for the community called: Making Your Healthcare Wishes Known: Advance Care Planning.

You can call 720-321-1769 for more information or visit them online at: myneighborhoodhealthcenter.org/myhealthmatters