Friday, April 24, 2009

About Embryo Donation

Happy Friday, everyone! Wishing you a beautiful day!

A few people have asked me about embryo donation, and our reasons for choosing it. I thought I would talk a little bit about it today.

First, my disclaimer: This information is based upon my own research, and I don't claim to be an expert. I've tried to summarize a lot of information here and this is only meant to be a short summary and not a fully inclusive list of information or requirements. I encourage and urge you to do your own research and make inquiries for more specifics. Also, Embryo donation/adoption may or may not be something you would choose. It was right for us, for our own reasons.

So what is embryo donation? In short, it is the donation of remaining frozen embryos by someone who has undergone IVF to another person.

If your IVF was successful (I know we have a member of our community right now newly pregnant with triplets!) and you have remaining frozen embryos, you will need to decide what to do with them. Your choices may include (1) keep them frozen for possible future use by you (for which you likely will pay a storage fee); (2) let them thaw and be discarded; (3) donate them for scientific research; or (4) donate them to another infertile couple.

How does it work? Find a clinic that offers embryo donation services. All clinics have different requirements, so please check around.

You provide them information about you (there will always be paperwork) and they try to match you with available embryos. Donor parents may have some control over who their embryos go to. Other clinics do only anonymous donations. When embryos become available that might be a good fit for you, the RE will tell you about the embryos and you can decide yes or no, whether you want these embryos. Some clinics will also handle the medications and transfer of the embryos, other clinics ship the embryos to your clinic who then takes over. As for the procedure itself, it works a lot like any other FET cycle. The intended mom takes medications to prepare her uterus lining. When the time is right, the embryos are thawed and transferred.

What are the advantages of embryo donation? Well, I could go on and on here, but I'll try to distill it down:
(1) The cost is MUCH less than regular IVF, especially if you would have needed donor eggs anyway. If you have to pay out of pocket for all IF related procedures, you could be priced out of IVF all together, but might be able to afford embryo donation.
(2) The procedure is easier on the intended mom because she doesn't need to undergo egg retrieval.
(3) Your chances of success MIGHT be better because if someone donated embryos to you from a batch with which they were successful, you might reason that the embryos from this batch are "good quality."

Why did we choose embryo donation? For several reasons. I am 43, my eggs are toast, and we couldn't afford to undergo successive attempts at finding one good egg or the very costly donor egg program. My uterus is healthy and my only "downfall" is my age. Embryo donation success rates are pretty good (you can check stats on the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website). After two miscarriages, I wanted the straightest, most likely route to baby. We are fine with having a child that is not biologically our own.

What are the drawbacks to embryo donation? For some people, having a child that is biologically connected to mom or dad is important. If you have problems with your uterus, this may not be any more successful for you. Clinics that offer embryo donation are fewer and farther apart, so you may have to travel. Finally, depending on the clinic, there may be a waiting list, and you may have to do several things common to regular adoption (like writing letters to prospective donor parents and doing a home study, among other things). The requirements of each clinic can vary greatly though, so I would encourage you to call around and ask.

Where to go for more information? Try searching the internet for embryo donation in your state. There are several agencies and clinics out there, and it does take some time to research them. I don't feel comfortable recommending any one clinic because I don't know enough about them to make a recommendation. Again, I would also encourage you to check each clinic's stats on the CDC website or

I hope this post was helpful.


Mr. Shelby said...

Very informative. Thank you for taking the time to detail this out.

-Mr. Shelby (from iclw)

Deathstar said...

Thank you for this information - I always wondered about it. We don't have these options available here, it's illegal to pay for donor embryos or eggs, so it's something that we would have to go to a clinic in the States or happen to have someone do it for altruistic reasons. In our case, I was asked about my nieces, but that was out of the question. In any case, we decided that if we couldn't have both our genetic material, then adoption would be a better option. Mmm, years later, it occurs to me now and then if we made the right choice since we are still waiting to adopt.

Lisa said...

Great info!!! I have decided (and I used to think other wise) that if we ever do IVF again and we have lots of embies, I will dontate them to other IF couples. I would jsut love to help someone else like me have the family they dream of.

Now if I could only get pregnant myself....

Happy ICLW!

tireegal68 said...

thanks so much for de-mystifying the whole embryo donation thing! this is the third time I have tried to post about this on your blog - I am having severe internet problems - but I really enjoyed your post. thanks!