I have a left over embryo from IVF which I plan to donate to someone else so they can have a child. However, I want to do the most good with this embryo as possible, and so it occurred to me that in addition to finding a good family I feel would make excellent parents I was considering asking them to donate a certain amount to charity as a 'fee' for receiving the embryo.

As far as I understand it is illegal for someone to pay me directly for an embryo, and likewise if I had them donate money to a charity I gained some indirect benefit from supporting that would be arguably illegal too. However, I believe if the donation is truly to a non-profit I do not benefit from this would not violate any rule about profiting from embryos?


2 Answers 2


You cannot require them to donate to charity in exchange for your permission to use the embryo, just because you don't get paid directly doesn't change this.

You may kindly request them to do so, but may not force them to do it as a fee.

Of course, you may make it clear that you will only donate your embryo to people who you personally deem worthy, and state that worthiness can be determined by how charitable they are.

This should encourage potential recipients of the embryo to donate to charity. But again, this is not a fee, nor is it enforceable in court.


Requiring someone to take an action (like giving money to charity) in return for you doing something (giving them an embryo) has all the basic requirements of a contract except legality of objects.

At the very least the arrangement would be unenforceable: they could make the donation and you could refuse to hand over the embryo or vice-versa. Unenforceability is not necessarily a problem in a high trust relationship.

A zealous prosecutor could try to make a case out of this: I have no idea if they would succeed.

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