IVF success leads to a growing interest in embryo donation
The advanced reproductive technology of IVF has resulted in successful outcomes and millions of babies worldwide. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies reported that 63,000 babies were born from IVF cycles in the USA in 2013 alone. The rise in the occurrence of IVF procedures and tendency to transfer fewer embryos per cycle has subsequently resulted in the creation of excess embryos.
Texas Fertility Center has historically championed the case for embryo donation, educating the infertility community and elected officials about the benefits of connecting the two parties—those with embryos to donate and those needing embryos to create a family.
The growing need for embryo donation
When a couple undergoes IVF, the goal is to achieve a robust ovulation induction. The greater supply of eggs we can harvest, the greater chance there is for securing good quality specimens for fertilization in the IVF lab. Newer methods for grading embryos, including a time-lapse camera that TFC is studying, enable us to transfer fewer embryos and to safely cryopreserve the remaining supply.
Men and women often return to our fertility center to add to their families, utilizing frozen embryos to bring home a sibling or to try again. When couples or individuals decide that their families are complete, however, the question arises: What to do with the remaining frozen embryos?
Dr. Kaylen Silverberg, “Due to lack of clarity in the law, the absence of a mechanism for easy embryo donation, and potential exorbitant legal costs involved in developing ‘one off’ solutions, frozen embryos remain in a sort of legal limbo and remain unused, doing no one any good.”
Like any donor registry, embryo donation would lessen the legal and financial burden and clarify the process. In doing so, this “clearinghouse” for embryos would provide a solution that would bring peace of mind to former fertility patients and an affordable option to patients currently considering IVF.
ASRM on embryo donation
The ASRM Ethics Committee has studied the issues and created policy statements concerning the dilemma. In one patient resource, the society defines embryo donation and states: “The donation of embryos to support the family-building efforts of others is an important option for patients considering the disposition of cryopreserved embryos in excess of those needed to meet the patients’ own fertility goals.”
As with any donor program, stringent screening procedures must be established and enforced. Texas Fertility Center adheres to industry standards for egg donor requirements, screening for physical, genetic and psychological criteria.
To learn more about embryo donation, contact us at Texas Fertility Center. We encourage you to convey your opinions to the state and federal legislature and to investigate options for embryo donation.
The Department of Health and Human Services, the State of Texas and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine took steps to bring this program to life. TFC supported a bill that would have created a clearinghouse for embryo donation. HB1145 died in committee in April 2015, but it’s important to maintain momentum that began with HB1145.