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What are the types of reproductive tissue can be donated?

  • Sperm
  • Oocytes (eggs)
  • Embryo(s)

How are donated reproductive tissues used?

  • Donated sperm, oocytes and embryos are used in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedures for people trying to conceive.
  • Sperm and oocyte donors may direct their donation to a known recipient, or, more commonly, may donate their gametes to a reproductive tissue bank for unknown recipient(s). The latter group of donors may choose to have their identity disclosed and/or be open to future contact with their donor-conceived offspring in the future.
  • Frozen donor sperm can be easily thawed and used for an intravaginal insemination (typically performed at home) or an intrauterine insemination procedure in a doctor’s office. Sperm can also be used in in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures, where it is introduced to oocytes and incubated in a culture dish, or directly injected into an oocyte in a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
  • Oocytes may be donated and used immediately after collection or may be vitrified (cryopreserved) and shipped to another location for future insemination. Donated oocytes may only be inseminated by skilled embryologists trained in IVF and ICSI procedures.
  • Occasionally, couples may donate their own excess embryos that remain after an IVF procedure to another infertile couple. Embryos are most commonly cryopreserved on day 5 after insemination when they have formed a multiple cell blastocyst. These embryos are only available through special donation programs. They are not ever sold through commercial reproductive tissue banks.

Who can benefit from donated reproductive tissue?

  • Anybody who wishes to conceive who lacks one or both gametes necessary for reproduction. This may include:
    • Same sex couples or single people wishing to be a parent
    • People who have primary conditions that impact their fertility, such as men with Klinefelter syndrome or women with primary (idiopathic) premature ovarian failure
    • People who have secondary infertility due to gonadotoxic treatment, such as chemotherapy for cancer