Ethical Issues in Oocyte and Embryo Donation

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Subject: LCSH

Oocyte Donation, Embryo Transfer, Human embryo -- Transplantation


Business Administration, Management, and Operations


In this chapter, six important areas of ethical concern for practitioners working in the area of oocyte and embryo donation are reviewed: (1) patient/donor relationships, (2) ethical limits on the amount and manner of payment, (3) ethical issues raised in the law concerning donation, (4) ethical issues in the preimplantation diagnosis of donor embryos, (5) controversy over the use of tissue from aborted fetuses and cadavers, and (6) the ethics of cryopreservation of eggs and embryos, including those retrieved from the deceased.

Throughout the chapter, we emphasize two primary ethical principles. First, no reproduction should occur without consent. All parties involved in the process of donation, donors, and recipients must understand and agree to the procedure and specifically to the uses of donated gametes and embryos. Although protecting donors against all hazards may be impossible, clinicians have a responsibility to endeavor to protect all parties from all known hazards, particularly reproduction without consent. Second, the donation of gametes and embryos must be appropriately compensated. The donor of reproductive material must be compensated both at a level and in a manner consistent with the real risks involved in particular procedures, respect for the dignity of the donor, and in financial amounts that are reasonable for the expected use of the materials.


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Publisher Citation

McGee G, Anchor-Samuels J, Caplan A: Ethical issues in oocyte and embryo donation. In Sauer, Mark V., ed. Principles of Oocyte and Embryo Donation. London: Springer, 2013, pp 395-403. ISBN: 978-1447123910