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Hum Reprod. 2003 Jun;18(6):1353-5.

Donation of embryos for stem cell research--how many couples consent?

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge University Hospital, S-141 86 Stockholm, Sweden.



The huge potential of human embryonic stem cells has been a subject of wide discussion as regards the ethical and legal justification of using human embryos for establishing such cell lines. The opinions of infertile couples and their willingness to donate their supernumerary embryos for stem cell research have not been investigated earlier.


We conducted an analysis of the answers of couples who were asked to give informed consent as regards donating their embryos for stem cell research in our IVF unit in 2001-2002.


Ninety-two percent of the couples gave informed consent as regards establishing and characterizing embryonic stem cell lines from the embryos which could not be used in their infertility treatment. Discussion in the Swedish media during May to December, 2001 regarding the importance and ethical justification of stem cell research made informing the couples easier.


A high proportion, 92%, of couples who underwent infertility treatment in Sweden preferred donating their supernumerary embryos for stem cell research rather than letting them be discarded.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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