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I need information about donating my eggs / embryos, for research.

Answer

Human embryo research and the use of human eggs for research and training in assisted reproductive techniques (ART), is tightly regulated in Australia, requiring licensing of the researchers by the National Health and Medical Research Council (the NHMRC) for each research project.
The members of the Science and Ethics Committee of the NSCFA are not experts in this complex legal/ethical field. We did however seek advice from a senior consultant in the field and the reply received is copied below, explaining why altruistic donation of eggs or embryos for research may not always be possible – there are many ART clinics but not all will be associated with embryo research projects (and much research involving donated eggs would involve creation of embryos, so falls under these provisions).

In Australia, human embryo research is licensed and regulated by the NHMRC and their website has an Embryo Research Licensing section that lists current and past licensed projects. Essentially, all of the projects are carried out either within an ART unit or at least with their involvement so the licence holders will be the ART clinics.

There is tight control of the numbers of embryos that can be used in each project so, in general terms, there is no shortage of donated embryos for the projects i.e. clinics will be able to complete their projects using embryos donated from their own patients. This is why there has been really no need to transfer embryos between clinics. In fact, in many cases, patients within embryo research licensed clinics who wish to have their embryos used for research are told that it may not be possible to guarantee their inclusion in the research.

If you have attended a specialist within a Assisted Reproduction Clinic then this would be the most appropriate person with whom to discuss this further.


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