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Many Couples Choose To Donate Surplus Embryos For Stem Cell Research

Date:
April 27, 2007
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Nearly 50 percent of couples who were interviewed at least three years after undergoing in vitro fertilization chose to donate their surplus, stored embryos for stem cell research, according to a report by the Spanish Stem Cell Bank.
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Nearly 50% of couples who were interviewed at least 3 years after undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) chose to donate their surplus, stored embryos for stem cell research, according to a report by the Spanish Stem Cell Bank in an April 26, 2007, advanced online publication of Cell Stem Cell, a new publication of Cell Press in affiliation with the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

The key to the couples' decisions, according to the authors of the report, was the complete and clear explanation of their options through an interview process with a legal advisor and embryologist, which helped couples navigate the confusing legal situation and address any concerns they might have had about donation for research purposes. While the findings reflect the interest level among couples in Spain--where the stem cell research environment is fairly open and people have traditionally been supportive of organ and tissue donation--the researchers believe that the results can be generalized to other countries.

"We are convinced that if this type of personal interview and survey were carried out in the U.S.A., at least 50% of the couples would be willing to donate their spare embryos for stem cell research," said Pablo Menendez, director of the Spanish Stem Cell Bank in Granada, Spain.

The new findings "contrast sharply" with a 2003 report, which found that, of 400,000 embryos stored at that time in U.S. fertility clinics, less than 3% were available for research purposes. However, that study was primarily designed to quantify the number of frozen embryos via questionnaires sent to couples before or shortly after their IVF cycles.

In the current study, the couples, who had undergone IVF at least 3 years earlier, were presented with four options for the fate of their surplus embryos. The researchers found that 49% of couples chose to donate their embryos for stem cell research, 44% decided to keep them in storage for their own future use, 7% opted to donate them to other infertile couples, and fewer than 1% made the decision to discard the embryos.

"Among the couples who did not want to increase their family, 90% support the donation of embryos to stem cell research in a Catholic country--and, most importantly, almost no couple wants just to destroy the embryos," Menendez said.

The researchers include Jose Luis Cortes, Fernando Cobo, Angela Barnie, and Pablo Menendez of the Spanish Stem Cell Bank (Andalusian Central Node), Centro de Investigaciones Biomédicas in Granada, Spain; Guillermo Antiñolo of Unidad Clínica de Genética y Reproducción, Hospital de la Mujer, Hospitales Universitarios Virgen del Rocio in Sevilla, Spain; Luis Martínez of Unidad de Reproducción Asistida, Hospital Virgen de las Nieves in Granada, Spain; Agustín Zapata of Spanish Stem Cell Bank, Instituto de Salud Carlos III in Madrid, Spain.

This work has been funded by the Fundación Progreso y Salud (grants 0029/2006 and 0030/2006 to P.M.); Consejería de Salud; Junta de Andalucía, Spain; and the International Foundation Jose Carreras (FIJC-05/EDThomas 2006 to P.M.).

Cortes et al: "Spanish Stem Cell Bank Interviews Examine Couples' Interest in Donating Surplus Human IVF Embryos More Than 3 Years Old for Stem Cell Research." Publishing in the July 2007 issue of Cell Stem Cell.


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Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Many Couples Choose To Donate Surplus Embryos For Stem Cell Research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070426145108.htm>.
Cell Press. (2007, April 27). Many Couples Choose To Donate Surplus Embryos For Stem Cell Research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070426145108.htm
Cell Press. "Many Couples Choose To Donate Surplus Embryos For Stem Cell Research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070426145108.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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