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New process helps patients make decision on IVF embryo donation

Imagine you're a patient who has undergone in vitro fertilization and now has leftover embryos. Should you store them, dispose them, or donate the embryos for research? And how do you make this potentially difficult decision?

In a new paper in Cell Stem Cell, researchers here have outlined a two-part consent procedure - now done routinely at Stanford - that helps people make this decision "in the privacy of their own homes - without any interaction with clinic personnel or scientists who might benefit from the research." From our release:

“There is concern that conflicts of interest and influence by researchers and clinicians may play a role in donor choice,” said bioethicist and senior author of the research, Christopher Scott, who directs Stanford’s Program on Stem Cells in Society. “The Stanford biobank process allows people time to make the primary decision to donate on their own, when it’s right for them..."

Along with outlining the the new process, the paper also reports on the preferences of some IVF patients. The researchers surveyed 403 couples who had donated 1,356 embryos to Stanford for research and found that "people who choose to donate their embryos for research are primarily concerned that they not be used to make a baby for someone else."'

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