Fertility Exeter now has links with an IVF research programme run by the Reproductive Medicine department at Old St Mary’s hospital, Manchester and the University of Manchester.

Patients who have embryos in storage, but have come to the end of their own fertility journey, will now have the opportunity to donate their stored embryos to research.

Donated embryos would be used in a number of on-going research projects.  The aim of these projects is to understand egg and embryo development, to hopefully improve IVF success rates in future.  The researchers want to find out what factors contribute to normal embryo development and implantation, and what happens when development goes wrong. They will be assessing factors including the culture environment and the effect of freezing embryos.  More detailed information is available from the research nurses at St Mary’s once you have expressed an interest in donation.

All research projects have full ethical approval and are licensed by and conducted in accordance with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) regulation.  Research in the UK cannot involve work on cloning or genetically altering the embryos in any way.  The research projects are publicly funded by the National Institute of Health research, Medical Research Council, the European Union and other sources.  Any embryos donated to research will not be used in the treatment of any other patient.

There is no obligation for patients to donate to research.  We understand that decisions around whether to remove embryos from storage can be difficult and emotionally challenging.  We would like to take the opportunity to remind those patients struggling with this decision that we do have counsellors available in clinic and that there is a wide network of fertility support groups that can be accessed if required.