Embryo Donation

Definition - What does Embryo Donation mean?

Embryo donation is when an individual or couple who have finished building their family donates their remaining cryopreserved embryos to an individual or couple for the purposes of transfer and achieving a successful pregnancy. The resulting child is then raised by the birth family. Embryo donation allows intended parents who have been unsuccessful with other fertility procedures to experience pregnancy and the delivery of their child.

Embryo donation may be referred to as embryo adoption, though there is disagreement with the appropriateness of this term, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).

FertilitySmarts explains Embryo Donation

The goal for most fertility procedures is to maximize the chances for a successful pregnancy. This often involves the stimulation of growth and retrieval of multiple eggs which can translate to the creation of multiple embryos. If an individual or couple has all of the children they are interested in having, it is possible that they have extra embryos that are frozen and they need to decide what should be done with them.

Typically, options for remaining embryos include:

  • Having them respectfully disposed of
  • Transferring them at a time when implantation is unlikely (compassionate transfer)
  • Donate them to research
  • Keep them frozen indefinitely
  • Donate them to another individual or couple.

Personal moral views on the beginning of personhood can be a driving factor in deciding to choose embryo donation for remaining embryos. Donation can also come with a sense of fulfillment on behalf of the donating parents as they helping other families experiencing difficulty.

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