A WA woman has won her 11th-hour bid to allow doctors at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital to remove sperm from her husband within hours of him committing suicide.
The application to have her husband's sperm removed and stored was sought last Saturday evening and granted after a short hearing.
While the woman, identified only as Ms C, will still have to get court permission to use the sperm to conceive, the WA Supreme Court ruling paves the way for hospitals to be able to collect sperm from men who have died, without a court order.
In 2008 and 2009, three women were granted orders in the Supreme Court to retrieve sperm from dead partners, even though WA laws make it illegal for fertility clinics to help them conceive using the sperm.
In last week's case, the woman told Judge James Edelman she and her husband had been trying to have a baby for almost two years and had recently started using in-vitro fertilisation.
But last Friday the man, who had a history of depression, took his life.
Ms C said she wanted to have his sperm removed for possible use in IVF but was told by officials at SCGH where her husband's body was being kept that she needed a court order.
In his judgment, Justice Edelman said by the time the woman contacted the court there were only hours remaining for the matter to be heard, an order to be issued and the sperm to be collected from the dead man.
In granting her application, he said in future such requests should be dealt with more quickly.
He said under existing laws, designated hospital staff were able remove tissue from the body of a person who had died in hospital or had been taken there, without the need for a court order.
Justice Edelman said the woman would still need a separate court order to be able to use the sperm.