Top Ten Tips for Donating Unused Frozen Embryos to Research
- The patient is usually the one that must contact the lab or tissue bank to donate.
- Embryos at all developmental stages can be donated to research.
- Different types of research need embryos, including stem cell, infertility, disease treatment, and embryo development.
- You can request the type of research you want, but it may be best not to put too many restrictions on the specific type of disease, especially if you are donating for stem cell research.
- Shipping is usually paid for by the lab or tissue bank. May have to wait until there are more than 2 to 3 patients from your clinic that are donating since the tissue banks prefer to ship more than a few at a time to save shipping cost. You usually do not pay storage/cryopreservation cost after you give you consent to donate.
- It is possible to donate if the embryos were created using donor egg or sperm, but there may be restrictions on the type of research. Ask at the tissue bank.
- Probably not possible to donate to research if you live in a state that prohibits research on embryos even if the tissue bank or lab you are donating to is located in a state that permits research on embryos. State laws on embryo disposition that are tracked by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
- You should not receive payment for donating your embryos.
- Even embryos of poor quality can be used for some types of research such as studying why some embryos thrive and others do not. Probably will not be used for developing stem cell lines.
- The tissue bank coordinator is the best person to ask specific questions. They know the nitty gritty of donating embryos to research better than anyone. Names, telephone numbers, and email addresses are included on our List of Laboratories and Tissue Banks that Accept Donated Embryos.
Image credit: University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment