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Hum Reprod. 2004 Sep;19(9):2091-6. Epub 2004 Jun 30.

Demographic, medical and treatment characteristics associated with couples' decisions to donate fresh spare embryos for research.

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Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, Bioscience Centre, International Centre for Life, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4EP, UK.



Isolation of human embryonic stem cell lines has opened a promising and pioneering area of basic and applied medical research. The issues in relation to a couples' decision in donating their supernumerary embryos for research need to be investigated further.


We carried out a prospective study of 300 couples who underwent IVF/ICSI treatment cycles in our unit. We analysed various factors contributing to their decision to consent to donate spare embryos for stem cell or preimplantation genetic diagnosis research.


The majority of couples (54%) consented to donate their surplus embryos for research. Couples of ethnic minority origin were less willing to consent for research compared to Caucasian couples. The number of ovarian follicles at pre-hCG scan and the number of embryos obtained were significantly higher in couples consenting for research. The funding source of treatment did not appear to influence the decision to donate. Couples with previous failed fertilization were less likely to consent to embryo research.


Physical characteristics based on ovarian response during a treatment cycle may positively influence a couple's decision to donate embryos. Further studies are needed to identify those couples who are likely to agree to research so that counselling for research can be directed efficiently.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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