Embryo Donation
Using Donor Embryos For IVF

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Donated Embryos


What Is Embryo Donation?
Why Do Couples Donate Their Embryos?
Who Offers Embryo Donation?
How Do I Donate My Embryos?
What Is The Process For The Adopting Parents?
How Much Do Donor Embryos Cost?
What Are My Chances Of Having A Baby?
How Many Embryos Are Transferred?
Is It The Same As Adoption?
How Can I Find Out More?

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Assisted Reproductive Technology
What Is Embryo Donation?

It is where one couple donates their embryos to another infertile couple. Usually the donating couple has produced more embryos than they need through IVF treatment and have no further plans for them. Any baby that results from embryo donation is considered the child of the woman who carries and gives birth to it - and not the child of the donating couple. It is the same principle followed in sperm donation and egg donation. Embryo donation is essentially the same as adopting a child because the child is not genetically related to the new parents. However the major difference is that those parents get to experience the pregnancy; they are identified as the parents on the birth certificate and no one need ever know that a donated embryo was used.

Why Do Couples Donate Their Embryos?

It is estimated that over 600,000 embryos are currently in cryopreservation (techie term for being frozen) in the U.S. Many of these embryos are left over from fertility treatments and are no longer necessary because the genetic parents have decided their family is complete. But then, these couples are left with a dilemma. Should they let the embryos thaw and die, or should they donate them to embryo research or donate them to a couple who want them? Some choose embryo donation believing it a more compassionate way to deal with the unborn. Couples who choose to donate are not usually paid for their service, nor however do they incur any fees for arranging the donation. The adopting parents cover all costs.

Who Offers Embryo Donation?

Some fertility clinics have lists of couples who wish to donate their embryos, while brokers also match prospective parents via the internet or through organizations dedicated to embryo and egg donation. See below for a list of contacts.

How Do I Donate My Embryos?

The fertility clinic where you underwent treatment may offer the service. If not, contact a not-for-profit broker such as the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), who can coordinate the whole procedure for you. You will be asked to fill out a form and provide some medical and genetic history. You will be screened for a series of infectious diseases to rule out possible diseases in your embryos. If you are not available for screening your embryos will be labeled unscreened and the recipients must agree to accept the risks associated with this. At the same time you must decide what degree of contact, if any, you wish to have with the adopting family. You can choose the family your embryos go to based on open information, or donate anonymously. You will sign some documents relinquishing all your rights to the adopting family. Once the paperwork is in order the donation center will contact your fertility clinic and arrange to have the embryos shipped.

What Is The Process For The Adopting Parents?

NEDC Criteria For Adoption

The NEDC work hard to ensure donor embryos go to a good home. The adopting mother should be healthy and able to carry a child, and the couple should demonstrate commitment to each other by being married. Other criteria:

• Couple should be married at least 3 years.
• Wife must be aged 45 or under.
• The combined age of the couple should not be over 100 years.
• The wife should not smoke from the time of application to the end of childbirth.
• Preference is given to couples who have been unable to have biological children.
• One partner at least must be a U.S. citizen.
• The couple need to undergo a specified home study course.

If accepted by the program, you will need to undergo some medical screening to ensure you will not infect the baby. The procedure after this is fairly straight forward. The NEDC (or any fertility clinic) will carry out a frozen embryo transfer using IVF procedure. This cycle requires minimal infertility drugs, usually just estrogen pills before the transfer and progesterone pills to maintain the pregnancy.

How Much Do Donor Embryos Cost?

One American study showed that donor embryos are a much cheaper way of conceiving a healthy baby than egg donation. The average cost of a live birth by embryo donation is $22,000 compared to $41,000 for egg donation. Note: Usually it takes more than one IVF cycle to become pregnant, either with egg or embryo donation. Thus the key figure is not how much an IVF cycle costs, but how much it costs to achieve an actual live-birth.

Related Articles:
How much does egg donation cost?
How does egg donation work?

What Are My Chances Of Having A Baby?

According to the CDC, the overall live birth rate resulting from an embryo donation is 35 percent. The NEDC's live-birth rate is 50 percent. Not all embryos survive the thawing process, and not all thawed embryos are successfully transferred. However, for many women, it is still their greatest hope of experiencing a pregnancy.

How Many Embryos Are Transferred?

Between 2 and 4 embryos are thawed for each IVF cycle. All of those thawed are implanted. As with any IVF protocol, there is some risk of having twins - although many consider this an advantage. What if you don't fall pregnant? Some embryo donation programs restrict the amount of transfers you can have. The NEDC limits couples to 3 attempts.

Related Articles
Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis: PDG testing. Tests embryos for genetic problems before implanting in the womb.

Is It The Same As Adoption?

Currently the law states that adoption only covers the placement of a child after birth. For this reason, legal agreements instead of adoption agreements are used to cover donor embryos. While these agreements are considered binding, they do not not rule out possible legal complications down the road. While no cases have yet been filed by biological parents looking for their child back after birth, it doesn't mean it couldn't happen in the future (despite all the legal agreements). Or what if the resulting child is born with a birth defect? The potential for a lawsuit is great, which is why many fertility clinics shy away from offering the service.

How Can I Find Out More?

The following non-profit organizations currently provide embryo adoption services in the United States:

National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC)
11126 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37934
Toll Free: 866-585-8549
Phone: 865-777-2013
Website: embryodonation.org
A non-profit organization that facilitates embryo donation and adoption. This institute arranges the process from beginning to end, including IVF services. The NEDC is America's only non-profit organization to also offer clinic services.

Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program
Phone: 714-693-5437
Website: EmbryoAdoption.org
Snowflakes are pioneers in embryo adoption and have been providing services since 1997.  They were the first organization to offer couples with remaining frozen human embryos a source for donation outside of a fertility clinic. Their website provides neutral information and is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Human Services. Married couples seeking embryos are preferred, although single women are considered. Home study course required. Religion neutral.

Embryos Alive
Phone: 513-518-7006
Website: embryosalive.com
Embryos Alive is the second oldest embryo adoption agency in the U.S (founded in 2003). Nationwide and international availability, and no home study required. Singles and married couples considered. No age limit on women seeking embryo adoption. Religion neutral.

Crystal Angels Embryo Adoption Services
Adoption Support Center
2514 82nd Street, Suite G
Lubbock, Texas 79423
Phone: 800-456-4862
Website: childrensconnections.org
Nationwide donor and recipient facilities. Married recipients and singles accepted. Religion neutral and no age limit on women seeking adoption. Home study required.

Embryo Adoption Services of Cedar Park
Lake Place Office Center
1605 N.W. Sammamish Rd.
Suite 250
Issaquah, WA 98027
Toll Free: 1-888-959-7712
Phone: 425-214-4512 Office
Website: adoptembryos.org
A non-profit church based organization that facilitates embryo donation and adoption. They do not provide IVF services, you will need to go to a fertility clinic for this.

National Fertility Support Center
2180 44th Street, SE
Suite 108
Kentwood, MI 49508
Phone: 616-455-1499
Email: fertilitysupportcenter.org or cedaeducation.org
Single recipients and married couples accepted. Provides support services to both donors and recipients.

Adoption and Fertility Resources
Missouri Location: 1129 West Kansas, Suite B Liberty, MO 64068
Kansas Location: 10925 Antioch Road Overland Park, KS 66210
Phone: 816-781-8550
Website: clinicalcounselingassociates.com
A family-owned counseling and psychotherapy practice in Kansas City and Missouri. They are in partnership with 2 clinics and an adoption agency. They meet with prospective parents, provide a consultation and home study assessment and provide matching services to genetic parents. They are not a clinic, and do not accept donated embryos.

  Related Articles on ART Procedures

For more ways to help mother nature, see the following:

Donor cytoplasm: Freshening up your eggs!
Egg freezing: Why some women are choosing to freeze fertility.
Extracting sperm for IVF: When your man has a low sperm count.

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