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More than 130,000 embryos discarded last year

More than 130,000 embryos discarded last year

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Published : 2013-12-05 20:13
Updated : 2013-12-05 20:13

A total of 131,708 fertilized eggs were gotten rid of last year due to an increase in the number of embryo transfers and the prevalent medical practice of collecting multiple eggs for higher chances for conception, officials said Thursday.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, nearly 250,000 eggs were collected by registered fertility centers across the country in 2012. But only 95,000 eggs were utilized for would-be mothers. Of the remaining eggs, 50,000 were stored in freezers for future trials and the rest were abandoned together with leftover embryos frozen for more than two years. None of the embryos were used for lab research, officials said.

Recently, more eggs are being discarded in Korea than in other advanced countries with similar population sizes. The United Kingdom, for instance, disposes of about 77,000 embryos a year, a substantially lower number than in Korea, researchers on bioethics said. The number of surplus eggs has surged because Korea has no regulations limiting the number of embryos collected to be implanted in the uterus, said Kim Myung-hee, team head at the Korea National Institute for Bioethics Policy. The government must step forward to solve ethical problems regarding abandoned embryos that have the potential to become a future life, Kim said.


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