Wanted—Egg Donors for Research: A Research Ethics Approach to Donor Recruitment and Compensation

Abstract

As the demand for human eggs for stem cell research increases, debate about appropriate standards for recruitment and compensation of women intensifies. In the majority of cases, the source of eggs for research is women undergoing fertility treatment requiring ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval. The principle of "just participant selection" requires that research subjects be selected from the population that stands to benefit from the research. Based on this principle, infertile women should be actively recruited to donate eggs for fertility-related research only. It is unethical to exclusively or predominantly recruit infertile women to donate eggs for stem cell research that concerns general medical conditions. It is preferable to recruit women from the general population to donate eggs for such research, and these women should be viewed as healthy volunteers. To avoid exploitation, these donors should receive compensation for both the direct and indirect costs associated with their donation.

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