One of the most challenging issues facing in vitro fertilization (IVF) patients is deciding what to do with their remaining frozen embryos once treatment is over. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, there are over 600,000 frozen embryos in storage in U.S. fertility clinics and storage centers.
The majority of patients will use their embryos to try to have more children. But for individuals who have decided their family building days are over, they have several choices to make. They can:
- Store their embryos indefinitely or until they make a decision and pay storage fees.
- Donate them to research.
- Undergo a ‘compassionate’ embryo transfer during the time of the month when the woman is unlikely to get pregnant.
- Thaw the embryos.
- Donate their embryos to another couple or individual.
Is embryo donation right for you as a donor?
Donating your embryos to help create other families is not an option for everyone. Many would feel uncomfortable knowing another family is raising their genetic children. However, some infertility patients who have used donated eggs or sperm might feel donating excess frozen embryos is a way to ‘pay forward’ the donation they already received. Of course, they also need to be sure they legally can do this and should review whether there are any prohibitions in their egg donation legal contract.
Is embryo donation right for you as a recipient?
Embryo donation is typically not the first choice for most couples starting infertility treatment. However, they may decide embryo donation is right for them if they:
- Have not been successful with traditional infertility treatment using their eggs and/or sperm.
- Are looking for an alternative to egg donation that can be less expensive.
- Want to experience pregnancy and nursing.
- Want to ensure there won’t be a genetic imbalance if only one partner uses a donor.
Issues to consider when donating or receiving embryos
Embryo donation is not just a medical procedure. Donors may have legal and disclosure questions they want to consider before deciding to relinquish their embryos. Recipients may have the same concerns but from the opposite perspective. We recommend they seek legal counsel or the advice of a licensed mental health professional to discuss these issues.
Finding or donating embryos
Even though there are many frozen embryos in storage, finding an embryo available for donation can be challenging. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association developed this website, http://www.mydestinationfamily.org/, to provide education and support for donors and recipients and to encourage donation. Additionally, there are agencies that match donors and recipients and clinics also may have frozen embryos donated by former fertility patients.
If you are interested in either donating or receiving embryos, please ask one of our staff members.
Parents Via Egg Donation
National Embryo Donation Center
Embryo Donation International