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Many UK couples favour embryo stem cell donation

Dr. Kirsty Horsey

Progress Educational Trust

07 January 2004

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[BioNews, London] A survey of British couples undergoing IVF treatment suggests that many of them would be prepared to donate embryos not used in their own treatment for stem cell research purposes. The aim of the study was to discover which factors affected a couple's decision on this matter, in order to enable clinics to approach only those who would be most comfortable discussing the issues, therefore minimising the potential to cause psychological distress to patients.

In the survey, couples attending the Newcastle Fertility Centre were asked whether they would be prepared to donate their surplus embryos for stem cell research. Fifty-seven per cent of the couples, who were all provided with 'written information on the needs, uses and benefits of embryonic stem cells in medical research', said that they would donate their left-over IVF embryos. The findings of the survey were presented at the joint meeting of the Association of Clinical Embryologists and the British Fertility Society, held in Liverpool from 5-6 January 2004.

Professor Alison Murdoch, chair of the British Fertility Society and leader of the study, said that it helped when couples were given information on embryonic stem cell research and the issues it raises. 'When people understand this issue they tend to look on it favourably', she said, adding 'scientists should not be afraid of engaging the public on this issue'. Clare Brown, chief executive of newly-launched Infertility Network UK, said: 'The key word for couples is obviously 'information'. It is vital that every effort is made to ensure that this information is used to create a more positive awareness of what is, and what could be, possible'.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 07 January 2004   Date Updated: 12 September 2004
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