Storage, transport, and disposition of gametes and embryos: legal issues and practical considerations

Cryopreservation of reproductive material has dramatically improved clinical outcomes for patients all over the world. At the same time the practice has produced significant legal, ethical, and practical challenges to physicians and practices who use this technique. Failing to meet the expectations of patients, for example by losing material because of a freezer failure, has significant implications for the reproductive facility. Similarly, improperly transporting or receiving gametes or embryos can result in substantial risk to a practice. Perhaps the most widely publicized conundrum is how best to manage embryos that are abandoned. This paper will describe the legal principles and best practices that should be incorporated into the management of a fertility cryopreservation program.

Authored by Lisa A. Rinehart, R.N., B.S.N., J.D. (LegalCare Consulting, Inc., Rinehart Fertility Center, Hinsdale, Illinois)

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