Should Australia allow mitochondrial donation?


National consultation launched Saturday 19 October in Adelaide

See the stories on Seven News, Ten News and the Adelaide Advertiser.

NHMRC invited all Australians to provide their views on the use of a new assisted reproductive technology that might assist in preventing certain rare mitochondrial diseases, but which requires careful ethical and social consideration. Consultation is open until 29 November. An issues paper is available at

On Saturday 19 October in Adelaide, NHMRC held its first major event of the consultation – a citizens’ panel. Around 20 citizens randomly selected from across Australia met over two weekends to hear from experts and then prepared their own position statement.

Mitochondrial donation might be able to assist in the prevention of mitochondrial DNA disease in an estimated 60 births per year in this country. However, there are social and ethical issues to consider including:

  • using mitochondrial DNA from a donor (using IVF technology) so that the child has DNA from three people
  • the rights of children to know their full genetic heritage
  • the potential risks and benefits of the technology, and
  • the implications for future generations.

Mitochondrial donation is in limited use in the UK and some other countries, but not Australia. NHMRC is asking the Australian community to consider the social and ethical issues associated with mitochondrial donation and will then provide advice to the Australian Government.

Details on further events will be provided in future announcements.