Compassionate Transfer

Definition - What does Compassionate Transfer mean?

A compassionate transfer is a method of dealing with the remaining embryos created during in vitro fertilization (IVF) in which the embryos are transferred to a woman's uterus when they are highly unlikely to implant.

The process was created to address the moral, ethical, and religious opposition some people have to embryo disposal after IVF. Having the extra embryos transferred at a time when they are highly unlikely to result in pregnancy can provide a feeling that the embryos died in a more "natural" way that is similar to a miscarriage.

FertilitySmarts explains Compassionate Transfer

During an IVF cycle, multiple eggs are retrieved and fertilized and the resulting embryos examined closely. Only those with the best chance of producing a successful pregnancy are transferred. Any remaining embryos are typically frozen for possible future use.

If IVF is successful and the parent(s) feel that their family is complete, there is a question of what to do with the remaining embryos. The options can include to leave them frozen, destroy them, donate them, or in some cases, have a compassionate transfer.

Proponents of this procedure say that it alleviates parents moral stress and allows them to make a choice that is in line with their beliefs.

Opponents question the ethics of the procedure, noting that transferring embryos when the uterus has not been hormonally stimulated to prepare for implantation has little difference from other forms of embryo destruction.

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