Hosted By: Eloise Drane

Episode 05. Embryo Donation 101: When It Takes a Village to Start a Family


March 12, 2020

Many people know about the more “traditional” alternatives to family building. In previous episodes we’ve already discussed a few options, including surrogacy and egg donation. But there’s another path to non-traditional family building that’s not talked about as often – and it’s one that can often ease the mind for families who have surplus embryos and the financial burden for intended parents seeking to complete their family. Embryo Donation. Embryo donation may sometimes be referred to embryo adoption. However, the correct term is embryo donation, not adoption.
Embryo donation is one form of third-party reproduction, where frozen embryos are donated by one family and given to another family who desires to have a child. So where do these embryos come from? Frequently, intended parents who undergo IVF have surplus embryos that are cryopreserved in a storage facility, either at a fertility clinic or a long-term reproductive storage bank. Once they decide their family is complete or have no intention to use the embryos themselves, donation becomes an option. With embryo donation, these unused embryos can be donated to help someone achieve their dream of building a family.

Who would need to utilize a donated embryo? Embryo Recipients can be anyone who needs third-party reproduction to help them have a child. Married couples, single individuals, or anyone in need of embryos. Donated embryos become an option when perhaps it’s too costly to do IVF and create embryos. Or when it’s not an option to use one’s own genetic material or that of a partner due to medical reasons. Or sometimes intended parents can’t or don’t want to use donor eggs or sperm.

There’s a lot to cover on this topic – from the basics like how it works and where the embryos come from, to tough questions like the legal and ethical considerations behind the practice. What are the reasons why someone may choose to donate their surplus embryos as opposed to choosing another disposition for them? From the recipient’s side, the questions are vast. How do you find and qualify to receive donor embryos? Where do you even start looking, and what kind of cost can you expect? All these questions and more will be answered on this third installment of our foundation series “When It Takes a Village to Start a Family”

Here’s a sneak peek at the episode:

  • (02:52) You won’t believe how many frozen embryos there currently are in the U.S.!
  • (05:04) When you are done building your family, what are your options for the extra embryos?
  • (11:45) In the U.S, frozen embryos are legally treated as property. In almost every state, courts consider contract law when determining what happens to them, meaning you have complete control over where your embryos end up.
  • (22:32) Eloise advises on the best ways to find donated embryos
  • (32:33) Success rates for using frozen embryos to create your family

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