CUH NHS 75th birthday logo

Consenting to the use of your Gametes and Embryos for Training Purposes

Patient information A-Z

CIVF logo - A purple and blue logo that reads 'Cambridge IVF, creating your future. ISO 9001 Quality Management.

As part of our ongoing commitment to deliver a quality service to our patients, Cambridge IVF has a commitment to laboratory training and development.

The ability to be able to work on gametes and embryos which would otherwise be discarded is one valuable method available to us to perfect our existing procedures, develop new techniques and services, and bring new and inexperienced scientists safely into the profession. All of the training procedures we perform are carried out within our own laboratory, no donated material is transported elsewhere and we do not anonymise the donated material before it is used for training.

This information has been compiled to summarise the training processes we can use your gametes and embryos for and allows you to indicate if you would be willing to allow your excess sperm, eggs and embryos to be used in this way. Once donated material is used for training it can no longer be retrieved and used for your clinical treatment and it will be allowed to perish once the training procedure is completed.

It’s important to remind you that our primary focus is on you and delivering the best possible outcome from your clinical treatment. We will not use anything in training that could have a conceivable value to you without your consent and will only ever use your donated material with you and (if applicable) your partners consent. You can change or withdraw you consent at any time up until the time that the donated material is used for training purposes.

We would not normally communicate back to you the nature of the training we used your donated material for. If you wish to, you can request this information in writing at any time. None of the training procedures we are using donated material for will reveal any information to us about your own health and welfare.

The ways in which we could use your gametes and embryos are listed below. You can choose to consent to the use of your gametes and embryos for any or all of the training opportunities described below on the consent form at the end of this document.

Sperm preparation training

Sperm preparation allows us to separate the ‘good’ sperm from the ‘bad’ sperm and other cells and debris in a semen sample to give us a high quality sperm preparation for IUI or IVF treatment. The technique must be perfected to ensure as pure a yield as possible is harvested on every occasion. We would use the part of a semen sample left over after we have prepared some of it for your treatment for this training. The two preparations would be kept separate and the training preparation discarded once the training procedure is complete.

ICSI training

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection is a common technique applied in most assisted conception clinics in the UK today. It involves the injection of a single sperm into an egg by a qualified and competent embryologist. To enable our staff to become competent we need eggs available for training. As part of the training we do not inject sperm into the eggs as this could potentially create an embryo, we merely simulate the process or use inert beads of approximately the same size as a sperm.

Biopsy Training

Biopsy technique involves the removal of a polar body, a cell, or series of cells from an egg, embryo or blastocyst. The material that is harvested is sent for genetic analysis to diagnose any genetic defects that the egg or embryo may be carrying. Training involves using a laser to make a small incision in the zona pellucida (egg shell) and use a very thin glass pipette to remove a single cell or series of cells. For training purposes, the cells would not be sent away for any screening, it is only the procedure of extracting them we are perfecting during the training. After being extracted the cells would be discarded. The embryos from which the cells were extracted from would be kept for up to 3 hours after the procedure to check that they have survived before being discarded themselves.

Vitrification and Thaw Training

Vitrification of eggs, embryos and blastocysts that are not of suitable quality for your own use allows us to train our scientists in the most efficient and effective method to cryopreserve and store gametes and embryos. Perfecting the technique allows us to offer our patients who wish to store their eggs or embryos a maximal chance of a pregnancy following their thaw. In the training we will vitrify the training consented eggs, embryos or blastocysts and then thaw them out the same day. We will keep them for up to 3 hours to check if they have survived before discarding them.

General Manipulation Training

New trainee embryologists need to gain skills in pipetting and manipulation of gametes and embryos before they can partake in clinical treatment. We would allow unskilled trainees to learn the skills involved in moving and handling gametes and embryos using your donated material under close supervision. The donated material would then be discarded.

We hope you have found this information useful. If you would like to donate your gametes or embryos for training please complete the declaration on the last page of this information document.

If you have any further questions or queries before making a decision please do not hesitate to contact a member of the scientific team who will be very happy to speak with you.

Many thanks,
Stephen Harbottle
Consultant Embryologist and Person Responsible

Declaration of consent

I / we have read and understood this information.

I / we understand we can withdraw or modify consent at any time prior to the use of the gametes and embryos in training and that withdrawal of consent will not in any way affect ongoing or future treatment at Cambridge IVF.

I / we understand that unless I / we specifically request in writing, no information will be fed back to me / us regarding the specific use of my donated gametes and/or embryos.

I / we have been offered the opportunity to ask any questions and are happy to consent to the use of our gametes and embryos for training purposes as follows;

(please tick those which apply)

Use of Sperm in Sperm Preparation Training

Use of Eggs in ICSI Training

Use of Eggs in Polar Body Biopsy Training

Use of Embryos and Blastocysts in Embryo Biopsy Training

Use of Eggs, Embryos and Blastocysts in Vitrification / Thawing Training

Use of Gametes and Embryos in general manipulation training

Female undergoing treatment

Signed: Date:

Print Name: Date of Birth:

Partner (if applicable)

Signed: Date:

Print Name: Date of Birth:

Signed on Behalf of Cambridge IVF

Signed: Date:

Print Name:

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151