Ethical frameworks for embryo donation: views, values & practices of IVF/PGD staff
Investigators: C.Williams*, B.Farsides, K.Ehrich, S.Avery, S.Franklin, P.Braude, R.Scott.
Project funding: Wellcome Trust Biomedical Ethics Programme.
This project explored the links between assisted conception, PGD and hESC research, particularly the donation of embryos to research. Good consenting practices are increasingly important for developing stem cell technologies and depositing stem cell lines in the UK Stem Cell Bank. The project was primarily a case study of staff at three English teaching hospitals, working in ACUs and linked stem cell laboratories. This research highlights the emergent nature of ethical frameworks amongst staff from diverse disciplines in a morally contested area of medicine and science. Some dilemmas and uncertainties are resolved as clinical practice and technologies co-evolve (e.g. recruiting only frozen or affected PGD embryos), but others remain unresolved making fully informed consent difficult to achieve, with staff retaining concerns about donors’ rights.