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Guidelines released to cover new embryo donation

8 August, 2005

Guidelines released to cover new embryo donation option for infertile couples

Surplus embryos created by couples who have undergone IVF treatment can now be donated to assist other infertile people have a child, as a result of new guidelines released today.

Previously, surplus embryos could only be left in storage or discarded.

The Guidelines for Embryo Donation for Reproductive Purposes were prepared by the National Ethics Committee on Assisted Human Reproduction (NECAHR) and have been finalised in light of considerable public consultation. The Minister of Health has approved the guidelines for implementation.

Because of psychosocial and ethical issues that embryo donation raises, the guidelines require all applications for embryo donation to be submitted for approval on a case-by-case basis.

Professor Sylvia Rumball, Chair of NECAHR, said the paramount consideration during the development of the guidelines was the future welfare of any child that resulted from an embryo donation.

Under the guidelines, donor couples and recipients will be required to undergo counselling so that they are fully informed about the psychological, social and ethical aspects of embryo donation before beginning the donation process. They must also have access to counselling throughout the process. A joint counselling session between all parties is also required.

Donor couples will only be able to donate to one family. Donor couples will have to wait until at least two years after they have decided that their own family is complete before being able to proceed with an application to donate their surplus embryos.

Written consent is required from both parties. If one partner of a potential donor couple has died then donation can only proceed if prior written consent has been obtained.

Clinics providing the service will be required to keep information on the donor couple, including names and current addresses, ethnicity and cultural affiliations, any significant medical history of the donors, their parents and grandparents, other children (if any) and donor siblings (if any).

The NECAHR guidelines will be reviewed no later than 2007.

ENDS

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