An interview with Diane Blood
With Mother’s Day looming it’s that time of the year where we all start reflecting. Thoughts of childhood memories, times of laughter and everything our mothers have done for us and helped us to achieve.
We often take it for granted, but on that one Sunday a year in March we stop to think a little and appreciate all that we have.
Just how far will a mothers love go?
Diane Blood sits nervously, fidgeting with her head low in front of a large group of students. “This is the first time I’ve been in front of so many people since 1999”, she says.
Twenty years ago she was used to this kind of attention, the press intrigued by her erratic life.
Diane is an ordinary but unconventional mother-of-two adolescent boys, Liam aged fifteen and Joel at the delicate age of eleven.
Their father is Stephen Blood whom she met at sixteen while at school, marrying him eight years later in 1991.
It sounds like the perfect nuclear family. It isn’t. In fact, you are to be told that Stephen died of meningitis at just thirty, before his children were even born.
The couple had been trying for a child for some time before his unexpected and immediate death.
Diane comments that he would have been thrilled to have children, although he would have liked to have been around to raise them.
She took the decision to take her husband’s sperm while he was comatose in hospital, placing it in a fertility clinic for later use.
After three months of grievance for her husband, Diane asked and was denied the usage of his sperm – there was an issue of whether Stephen had given consent and the sperm was to be destroyed.
Horrified, Diane sought the legal help of Michael Fordham, now a close family friend and godfather to her first born, resulting in a monumental legal battle.
“I played everything by the book all my life”, she says.
Although supportive, her and Stephen’s family had their concerns. Concerns for her mentality and the fear of bankruptcy, which could result in her losing both her home and life savings, everything her and Stephen had worked so hard to achieve.
“I couldn’t have walked away and spent the rest of my life not knowing, to me it just wasn’t an option”, she says.
However, pressure loomed as she lost her first legal battle. The choice was to call it a day without a financial penalty of up to £30,000 or to appeal. Determined, Diane chose the latter.
With the choice to lift her anonymity after the first case came the intrusion of the press. A choice she made in order to raise public awareness and to gain their support.
Diane reflects on her instability during this time, listening out for the persistent ringing of her phone as she sat upon the floor in her lounge rocking backwards and forwards.
“I’m less emotional now”, she says.
Diane won on appeal due to European law and admirably her case set precedent with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Deceased Fathers) Act.
On reflection, Diane states it was an entirely selfish battle, she wanted children and did not think of the impact her determination would have on society, or the inspiration that she would become.
Defensively, she says: “I wanted the baby in spite of the fact he had died, not because he had”.
Her persistent and brave actions have encouraged other women to fight. Beth Warren followed in her footsteps as she got into her own and rather similar legal battle.
Diane cried at the declaration of Beth’s successful judgement. Due to her Article 8 rights (Right to respect for private and family life) in the European Convention on Human Rights Act she was now legally allowed to attempt her own family.
“We are massively privileged, there is an awful lot of people who don’t succeed”, she says.
Diane believes that her own and others cases have lessened the societal prejudice when it comes to IVF treatment. That the publicity from her case has raised awareness and changed ethical opinions.
“It’s not damaging to society”, she says.
Since the ordeal, Diane has focused wholeheartedly on her own family, raising her ambitious and vibrant sons who have desires to work in computing and science – something neither her or Stephen were particularly interested in.
The boys know everything about their father she says, told as soon as they began questioning. They still visit his grave on special occasions and the home is surrounded in pictures, his memory far from forgotten.
Diane has also continue to work extensively to raise awareness of meningitis, participating in charity events and giving public talks, her campaigns continue.
As Mother’s Day looms, the family prepare for a quiet meal this Sunday to celebrate all that they have achieved together.
As Stephen’s mother looks into her grandson Liam’s eyes and their long lashes, she sees her own boys peering back at her.
Never underestimate a mothers love or determination when it comes to her children.