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Am J Bioeth. 2011 Sep;11(9):22-30. doi: 10.1080/15265161.2011.593683.

Assessing the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome in egg donation: implications for human embryonic stem cell research.

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  • 1Graduate Program in Public Health, Department of Preventive Medicine, Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY 11794-8338, USA.


Stem cell research has important implications for medicine. The source of stem cells influences their therapeutic potential, with stem cells derived from early-stage embryos remaining the most versatile. Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), a source of embryonic stem cells, allows for understandings about disease development and, more importantly, the ability to yield embryonic stem cell lines that are genetically matched to the somatic cell donor. However, SCNT requires women to donate eggs, which involves injection of ovulation-inducing hormones and egg retrieval through laparoscopy or transvaginal needle aspiration. Risks from this procedure are fiercely debated, most notably risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This review examines risk of OHSS resulting from oocyte donation. We conclude that risk posed by OHSS in egg donation is not significant enough to warrant undue concern, and much of this can be eliminated when proper precautions are taken. This bears relevance to the future of stem cell research policymaking.

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