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The need for donor consent in mitochondrial replacement
  1. G Owen Schaefer
  1. Correspondence to Dr G Owen Schaefer, Centre for Biomedical Ethics, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, 117597, Singapore; medgos{at}


Mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) requires oocytes of women whose mitochondrial DNA will be transmitted to resultant children. These techniques are scientifically, ethically and socially controversial; it is likely that some women who donate their oocytes for general in vitro fertilisation usage would nevertheless oppose their genetic material being used in MRT. The possibility of oocytes being used in MRT is therefore relevant to oocyte donation and should be included in the consent process when applicable. In present circumstances (especially because MRT is still an emerging technique), specific consent should be obtained. However, once MRT becomes more routine, such consent could be incorporated into the general consent process for oocyte donation. The reported lack of proper consent for MRT from the oocyte donor in the first baby born via the technique is an ethical failing and should be corrected in any future practice of MRT.

  • informed consent
  • in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer
  • reproductive medicine

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  • Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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