In the country's first case on the inheritance of frozen embryos, two parents were told they could not inherit their deceased son's frozen embryos, at a court in East China's Jiangsu province on Thursday.
The couple's son and their daughter-in-law, both only children, died in a car accident on March 20, 2013, five days before they planned to transfer a fertilized egg via in vitro fertilization to the daughter-in-law's uterus.
The young couple did not have a child and were trying to conceive baby. They started the process in Feb 2012 and had four of their frozen embryos stored at a local hospital.
The four embryos became the only hope for the two pairs of grandparents to have a biological grandchild.
However, the hospital refused to give the families the embryos since surrogate motherhood is banned in China.
The parents of the son filed a lawsuit to demand ownership of the embryos.
"Since the young couple died and could not realise their plan to have a child, the embryos they left behind cannot be inherited," the court said in a ruling.
The families will appeal and the hospital will retain custody of the frozen embryos.