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The Embryo Decision
Use, donate, destroy or research?

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#1 prue~c

Posted 12 April 2011 - 02:54 PM

I got a phone call from a journalist a few weeks before I had our twins who was writing a story on frozen embryo donation. It was one of those bizarre things because the previous day, I had received a bill on the mail for six months of cryostorage for the embryos we have left. It precipitated a discussion with my husband as to what we might do with our remaining embryos.

There are four options for remaining frozen embryos after you have had children. You can either continue trying for more children by transferring them back into the uterus in a frozen embryo cycle; you can donate them to couples/singles who haven't been able to produce their own; you can donate them for research, or you can have them destroyed.

We only ever wanted two children. Now that we have our twins, at some stage we will need to make the decision as to what to do with our remaining embryos. It's not a decision we need to make straight away, because embryos can be stored for several years, but eventually we will need to decide what to do.

When I first started thinking about it, I was all for donating to another couple. The classifieds sections of parenting magazines like Sydney's Child as well as the Essential Baby donor forum are full of people pleading for donor embryos. The embryos we have in storage are 100% the DNA of me and my husband. Any potential children that result from them would be 100% siblings to our boys. And now that I have my boys, I admit to being less likely to want to donate them. Before I had children (yes, having them has made me reevaluate my stance on several things) I saw the embryos as nothing more than specks of tissue. Five cells, rather than potential people.

Now that the boys are here, I have been thinking about how I would feel about another couple bringing up what are genetically our children. How would I feel if, heaven forbid, something happened to one of my boys that needed some kind of donation – be it organ, blood, tissue or cells. Do I have the right (moral, not legal) to ask the parents of any children resulting from a donation of our embryos to offer up the parts of their children to ours? After all, we gave them the building blocks for life. Or what if the tables were turned and those children needed something my boys could provide? Would I be obligated, morally, to offer?

The option least favourable to me is to destroy the embryos. What a waste of technology, time, pain (on my behalf) and opportunity to essentially rinse them down the sink. Without research on donated embryos, developments in IVF technologies would be nowhere near as advanced as they currently are.

I have also read that some religious women will have the embryos transferred back into the uterus at an inopportune time, when the embryo is unlikely to survive, just to keep their conscience clear and so they can tell themselves they haven't destroyed life. I don't get the difference between that and flushing the embryos down the loo, but if it makes them feel better about themselves, whatever.

And after such a complicated and painful pregnancy, I am 99% sure I won't be using the embryos myself, and while I would love to give a childless couple the most wonderful gift in the world, for the time being, those little specks of us will continue to sit in suspension.

#2 fooiesmum

Posted 14 April 2011 - 04:37 PM

We have 1 child conceived via IVF, I was always sure 1 would be the perfect number for our family and I'm still sure of that decision.

As to what to do with the single remaining embryo, I am unable to make a decision, so for the foreseeable future I'll keep paying the storage fee, possibly until the clinic considers it to be no longer viable to store, then the decision will be taken out of my hands.

So maybe no decision will end up being a decision in it's own right?

#3 Divine MsM

Posted 14 April 2011 - 04:49 PM

DH and I have been discussing this.  We're expecting #3 in 4 weeks.  But we still have another 4 on ice.  I want 1 more but DH wants to stop - mainly because of the physical toll pregnancy takes on me as I get older, as well as the fact that he feels he's getting to old to look after really little ones.

Not sure what we're going to do.  Our first frozen transfer failed.  Our second one succeeded, so we have a success rate of 50%.  I've always wanted 4 - not sure I could cope with more.

Be interesting to see what decision other people make and why.

#4 Freckles

Posted 14 April 2011 - 04:55 PM

As the Moderator of the Donor Conception Support section I have some understanding of what a momentous decision this is, regardless of what you ultimately decide. The rational part of my brain likes the idea of giving 'leftover' embryos to someone who desperately wants a baby. However there are lots of ramification of doing so and the more you think about it the harder it becomes. I don't know what the answer is. I suspect that the answer is different for everyone, depending on their background, history, family make up, morals and more. Definitely food for thought!

#5 Faith75

Posted 14 April 2011 - 05:02 PM

We are in the same boat and are very undecided on what will happen with our 7 frosties, we have given ourselves a 5 year time frame to have a good long think about what to do...

#6 Puddycat

Posted 14 April 2011 - 08:02 PM

Again, like the PP, we have no idea as to what to so with ours either.

We did 7 full stim cycles with only one FET, and most of the time we didn't even make it to transfer, or if we did it was a crappy embryo.  So I never thought that this was a decision we would need to make.  

Then I got pregnant, with twins, but miscarried them.  From this cycle we had, for the first time ever, a frozen embryo.  I was hesitant about using it, as the two other embryos from this batch had obviously had something wrong with them.  Plus, the miscarriage of the twins was the darkest period of my life.  I couldn't fathom these frozen one working, and I was petrified that if it did result in a BFP that I would miscarry again.   I'm not sure if it was my negative thinking, but I was secretly relieved when it didn't thaw very well, but we transferred it anyway and it was a BFN.

Fast forward several more (disastrous) cycles and we get another BFP.  Again it was twins.  I'm now 25 weeks pregnant (and loving it) while also being petrified every single step of the way.

Murphy's law - we finally have two good frosties - but finally we are pregnant.  Admittedly, we don't have the babies in our arms yet, but each passing week the chances of us taking the babies home increases.  I still cant believe our luck.

I doubt we will have anymore children.  The twins will be plenty.  Before we were lucky enough to get our BFP I always thought of donating any excess embryos (if we ever had any).  But now we are having our own children I realise that they are 100% biologically related to our babies.  And that clouds my thinking.

For now, we will continue to pay the storage fee.  And later, who knows.  Its not a decision we will make lightly or easily. In one way, I wish we didn't have them, as then we wouldn't have to make this decision.

#7 christmasiscoming

Posted 14 April 2011 - 09:32 PM

I could have written this blog post myself, almost word for word.  We have had one cycle of ICSI back in 2008 and it resulted in 3 viable embryos.  One embryo was implanted in May 08 and we're pleased to say he is now a happy 2yo boy running crazily around our house each day.  

Since then I have fallen pregnant naturally (and unexpectedly) and given birth to another little boy in February this year.  I'd always imagined that we would just go back to the clinic and try a FET cycle and 'use up' our embryos first before we 'tried' naturally however that decision was made for us.  

I always assumed I would be completely happy to offer any 'leftover' embryos to a childless couple to help them become parents, thinking in my mind that these were just 'cells' and not 'my children' until I had carried them and birthed them.  However, I have since talked to alot of people about it, and they have given me alot of other scenarios to think about... the most compelling one came from my SIL who is adopted.  She has tried in vain to contact her birth parents her whole adult life, if only to get medical history etc etc  This scenario is possibly something that these 'donated children' (for lack of a better term)  would also face later in life - questions about where did they come from, why did they give us up, what would my biological family have been like etc etc  so for me it was a case of it's just not that easy to 'donate' these embryos anymore.  To an extent you'll always have ties to them and morally, can you stay anonymous knowing that 'your' children might be searching for you to answer questions later in life about their biological makeup and so forth.  

Needless to say I am now more on the fence about the whole situation than I ever was.  I dont really want them destroyed as I know that another couple would gladly take them in a heartbeat just for the chance that they would result in a child however I'm not sure I personally want another 2 children either now that I already have 2.  

I am starting to lean towards donation to research so that at least they are going to help others in some small but significant way...  funny how we dont think about this though BEFORE we decide to undergo the egg pick-up procedure ...

#8 ~Mintie~

Posted 14 April 2011 - 09:42 PM

This is something we'll also be facing in the future. We have 2 frosties, and planned to use them to complete our family. However fate took a turn and has given us a naturally conceived surprise baby, something I always longed for but had accepted wouldn't happen for us. And whilst I wouldn't change it for the world, it does raise the question of what we will do with our frosties if we're now able to conceive the rest of our family naturally.
I would truly love to give someone the gift of a baby by donating my embryos, but a large part of me is stopping me from seriously considering it. Those embryos are 100% us. So I have the same thoughts as yourself, someone out there would be raising our child. I know it's just a bunch of cells, and having faced the possibility of having no children I understand how big of a gift it could be to someone. But I just don't think I could do it. So it leaves me confused, anxious and undecided on what we will end up doing with our embies. I think the only option I will be willing to consider is to donate to science.
I know it's no consolation, but I do hope to become an egg donor one day, as I feel I can easily deal with that, and I believe I will be able to do that as the infertility issue was with my DH not myself. The only issue is I'm unsure if I will have completed my family before I turn 35yrs.

Anyway, I hope you come up with a decision that you are at peace with, it's such a very hard choice to make. Congratulations again on the birth of your boys original.gif

#9 gefadi

Posted 14 April 2011 - 10:04 PM

It seems that a lot of us that have been through successful IVF with snow babies in storage are faced with the same dilemma.

Like pp's, I too have twin girls from a successful "fresh" cycle and 1 snow baby. Our girls are now 16 months old.

We too were happy with our girls and had no real plans of having anymore children, but every time the invoice arrived in the mail about our snow baby, the same questions always arose. I just happily paid the storage fees, as I couldn't bring myself to make a decision. Even though I was happy with the twins, because this embryo is " our child " there was an element of what if.

Well, I guess our decision was made for us, when we fell pregnant naturally, expecting our third ( yes there is only 1 bubba on board!), so we have just paid the next 6 months, just to ensure this baby arrives safely, then we will happily donate our embryo to research. After all, if it wasn't for science, technology and advancements in research with IVF, we wouldn't have our two beautiful girls.

I don't think I could be that very "special" person and donate our "child" to someone else, always wondering if we had a son or daughter being raised by someone else. Though I fully appreciate the pain and desire childless couples face, having been there for many years whilst undergoing IVF ourselves, I am not sure I have the selflessness in me to donate. I understand the odds of FET working a less than a fresh cycle, but as pp have successfully conceived through FET, it does work, and this snow baby is from the same "batch" as our girls I often wonder if this makes the odds stronger?

I admire anyone that can donate their embryos to other couples, and I highly commend you for this selfless act, but I am afraid, I pike out on this one.



#10 harrison~at~last

Posted 14 April 2011 - 11:02 PM

We have 4 children as a result of IVF. Our family is complete and we still have 5 embryo's on ice.  We kept them there until the triplets arrived safely into the world.  Not as any insurance policy, but just because we were never sure if we'd have any let alone all 3 arrive safely.

We won't even consider donating them to another couple, there's too many moral roadblocks there for us.  In a state the size of SA, and having 4 children, what if one fell in love with a child who was biologically their brother or sister?  

I'm not sure about donating to research, DH doesn't want them 'doing things' to them.

We certainly won't be using them ourselves, we only ever planned 2 children.

I guess the only other option is having them destroyed, I'll get around to calling the clinic eventually.  Better do it sooner rather than later so I don't have to keep paying for the storage!

#11 LoveMy3Kids

Posted 14 April 2011 - 11:29 PM

We seem to be the only ones so far that are ok with embryo donation. We feel really good about our decision to donate and are planning a donation where we choose the couple we donate to. We have been down this road last year but the couple we were donating to changed their minds at the last minute so we are now starting the process again.

From what we've been told so far, the couple we donate to will need to ensure any baby created knows how it came to be. It's up to the couples concerned as to how much contact there is, if any. We will ensure that any baby created will have access to us if they decide to meet us. We don't consider the embryos as our babies, so I think that makes it easier to let them go. We know they are genetically related to us and they will be direct siblings of our children but they will have their own family and won't be our children. It's kind of like an open adoption.

For us there was no real decision to make. It was what we were always going to do and neither of us have had second thoughts about it.

#12 cugel

Posted 14 April 2011 - 11:44 PM

Also living in SA and feel that Adelaide is too small to donate an embryo to someone living here. I feel I would be constantly looking for my child (if the donation were successful). Two of my three children look very similar and I would be constantly looking for these features.

I guess the issue is I still see our frozen embryos as our potential children rather than a bundle of cells. My husband, while agreeing that they are potential children, has the view that they (the embryos) have a right to a possible life (quite inconsistent with his usual political views)

Hysterectomy after last child so unfortunately no chance of us using them ourselves, but I would if I could.

#13 dreamstoreality

Posted 14 April 2011 - 11:45 PM

This is such an amazing topic for discussion and one that is readily in my mind.

My DH and I are currently undergoing our 2nd IVF cycle (EPU on Monday hopefully) as our first cycle in February was unsuccessful with no embryos frozen.

It is very interesting to read all of your posts because as soon as DH and I started on this IVF journey, we wondered what we would do if we were left with any frozen embryos and what choice out of the four we would make.

We may never have to make the decision, but there is fors and againsts for all of them.  For me, I believe at the moment, like many of you did before you got pregnant that you would donate them to another couple or single so that they have a chance at their miracle too, but then morals come into it and the more you think about it I think the more negatives come to mind for a lot of people.  

My DH has said to me that what if we did donate them, what would we say to them when they turn 18 and find us.  What would your answer be if they said why did you give me away? I believe I would be honest and say that I couldn't throw you away, even though I had never met you and knew there was a chance that I would never met you or get to know who are you.  I couldn't donate you to science as you would never have reached the potential to be the amazing person you could be. I couldn't try for another baby as much as I would have loved too because there is no way we could have afforded it and because I wanted someone to have the miracle that is you.  You are our child and always will be, but you are someone else's son or daughter.  You deserved a chance at life.

I know the pain that people go through not being able to fall pregnant, I cannot imagine the pain or being told you can not have a biological child of your own.  I know a lot of people think embryos are cells and I know that they are too, but they are full of potential, they could be anything and I don't think I could live with myself if I chose to not let them have a chance.  

As I've said above, this is only how I feel and obviously every one else has different opinions.  DH has a different opinion to me and who knows, may be if we are fortunate enough to get pregnant I may well change my mind as well.  However, at the moment, because I don't know whether I will end up being one of those people requesting a donor embryo, I like to think that there would be someone out there willing to give DH and I our miracle.

#14 Jalex

Posted 15 April 2011 - 12:01 AM

Another here who is in the same boat.

We have had one successful fresh transfer and one FET....we have 3 more on ice.

A year or so ago we started investigating donating to another couple, but became a little despondent with all the paperwork and psychological assessments etc. We are very open to donating to another couple as there are so many people out there that are not as lucky as us and cannot conceived children of their own. We have read all the ramifications and laws and still have no issue with it - but we don't have the time and flexibility to "fit in" with the requirements to meet specific people on specific days to get the process happening. If the clinic were more flexible with meeting us when we are available, I'm sure we would have done it by now.

Just recently we had a 200% increase in storage fees, which is now forcing us into the decision as I see it is pointless to be throwing money away on keeping them frozen when we have made the decision that WE are not going to use them. Right now I am leaning towards donating to research, as at least they will not go to waste and may help to uncover more medical miracles to help others conceive. I couldn't have them destroyed.

I wish you all the best with your individual decisions, it is not an easy one to make!

#15 TheGreenSheep

Posted 15 April 2011 - 12:55 PM

When our storage fees eventually caught up to us in the mail redirection and the accumulated bill was quite high it was out time to decide.

I never saw the embryo as 'us'. It was a product of a cycle that not the best embryo and I miscarried the best one, so the FS was of the opinion he woule do a fresh one over a FET of the remaining embryo. So I guess I always saw it as less than perfect and not likely to give us a viable pregnancy.

We have our two children, our 2nd was a natural surprise after the IVF conception and subsequent MC. So we chose to donate to research. Mainly so that maybe someone else would benefit, if not directly from an embryo, but from the results of research.

#16 Lea79

Posted 15 April 2011 - 01:43 PM

I'm another who thought I would donate any remaining embryos to another couple, but since having my twins, I just don't feel comfortable doing it. We have recently been faced with the decision of what to do with out remaining two frozen embryos. DD & DS were from a FET after having to freeze all from our first IVF cycle. From 18 fertilized, we only got four embryos and two of them ended up being DD & DS.

We discussed having more children, but would only ever transfer one, so if we were to be successful with another FET we would be back in the same position as we are now. And I can't see us using both and having four children (if we were successful that is). We have now decided that our family is complete with our twins. My clinic does not let you donate to research anymore, so it looks like our only option is to discard them sad.gif

#17 prue~c

Posted 15 April 2011 - 02:22 PM

Interesting how many people have the same thoughts as us!

Here's a link to the story (but I don't recall calling the remaining embryos an "insurance policy!) but the fact that there are so many embryos in storage, and how few people donate - for either research or to another couple - I find quite astounding.



Lovemy3kids, is it a condition of donation at your clinic that you meet with the potential recipients? I think I would feel much more comfortable with that scenario than an anon donation.

It's such a difficult decision. I would love to hear from anyone who has donated their embryos - how the process was handled, what sort of contact you have with the recipient family (if any).



ETA they are two different links. The top one to the full story, the bottom to our interview. And a shocking pic of me and DH!!

Edited by prue~c, 15 April 2011 - 02:22 PM.

#18 Miss Kitty-Cat

Posted 15 April 2011 - 03:06 PM

We're definitely not in that situation yet. We were lucky enough to conceive our first through an FET and we have one more in storage. Once we have this one we'd like to try again with the one we have in storage before going though another stim cycle. We have unexplained infertility.

I don't know how I feel about donating embryos to someone else. I'm very conflicted. I feel like they are me and my DH, 100%. On one hand I would hope that there might be someone generous enough out there to donate an egg or embryo to me would I have needed one. But could I be brave enough to do it for someone else? I don't know. It's a very big call. But I think that anyone who does it is truly amazing.

#19 gfgirl

Posted 15 April 2011 - 03:16 PM

i dont envy anyone in this position.  if that was me and it was just my eggs, i would send them to another couple but if it was both me and my husbands DNA - i would think twice.  i supposed i would donate them on the condition that i get a letter or something once a year to see how they are growing up.   i would be more inclined to do what the other lady did though, stick them in a time when it is less successful - mainly for my own guilt and piece of mind.

#20 42n8

Posted 15 April 2011 - 05:12 PM

I am another in the same boat.

After 8+years of IVF (and 15 pregnancies) we now have 2 beautiful daughters and 2 remaining (A-grade)frozen embryos.  However, unlike alot of the PP's, my ultimate success in IVF has made my resolve to donate the remaining embryos clearer and stronger.  For so long, we could not achieve a successful pregnancy and for so long I was tempted toward the route of adoption, or surogacy.  But age, politics and time were against us to make those options palatable so we persisted with IVF and I am so glad (and relieved) we did.

I do see my remaining embryos as 'future' children. And, I believe giving a child up for adoption is the ultimate gift from a mother to that child - not just the adopting parents.  I would rather my embryos (my children) be gifted a life that I cannot give them than be left in a freezer waiting, and waiting and then (most likely) ultimately being destroyed.  I went through so much to create those embryos and I feel it's my responsibility as their mother to follow through and give them their chance at life even if I cannot be the one to give it.

I am not casting judgement on anyone who feels differently to me.  I understand that way of thinking too.  It is how my DH feels.  I just feel otherwise.  However, my remaining embryos were 'concieved' after the age of 35 and in my state therefore cannot be offered for donation.  If they could, i would've done it immediately after DD2's birth.  But, it's not an option available to me or my embryos.  

My clinic, does not do research on embryos.  Offering them to research is a 'nice' way of requesting they be drestroyed because there is no research to be done and the one thing my DH and I do agree on is that we will not destroy them.

So, our dilemma is to wait.  Keep paying the storage fee and maybe one day in the future, decide to use them ourselves.  But with my biological clock all but ticked out, that decision too, it seems has been made for us.  I guess this is why compassionate transfers seem a good idea to me.

Best wishes to all who face the same dilemma.

#21 HeatherRob

Posted 15 April 2011 - 06:05 PM

Sadly I am not in your situation, my DH and I are one of those couples who need to adopt an ebryo to help us to have our family. I am not about to start begging or telling any of you what to do.

I just want to say I have read all your posts and a lot of them made me cry.

Even though I need what you have, I dont know if I could donate my embryos and NOT know anything about any resulting children, I would HAVE to know, was it a girl/boy how big, its birthday and a photo. I would fully want that child to know where they came from, how they came into this world and who helped thier mummy and daddy have their family. I would want them to know who I am.
I have worked with teen agers who were not told they were adopted untill their sixteenth birthday and the emotional damage can be quite bad, I wouldnt want that to happen to any child born as a result of donation.
I would want to know who my ebryos were going to where they lived and to at least have some sort of continuous contact via email.
I would want some sort of dialogue going on prior to any donation.
But that is me.

You can do known donation or unknown so either the clinic matches you or you can match yourself.

I hope this doesnt sound like a plea for your embryos, that is not what it is meant to be. I just want you to knw that some of us that are hopeing to be blessed with the gift of life, also want our donor to be part of that future childs life no matter how much, the contact is always in the hands of the donor.
Some of understand what it means to donate your embryos. Maybe this will help you understand what is going on in our minds too.

I respect all of you, no matter what you decid to do.

Been advised by a freind to add that I have a thread in donor suport both here and in Bub Hub. She told me there might be an Angel reading this that might bless us with an Embryo. I dont want to offend any one by this I just want to have a baby.
Although I would love to have a relationship of some sort with a donor if that is not what the donor wants then, we would repsct those wishes %100

Edited by HeatherRob, 18 April 2011 - 06:13 PM.

#22 6plus2

Posted 15 April 2011 - 11:34 PM

This thread is really healing for those of us facing this dilemna.

After a ton of googling on the subject to help us arrive at our decision, I came across a study being done at the law faculty at UTS in Sydney. There is an online survey that is asking for your views on embryo making, donation, regression of ice babies, etc.

I found it really helped to do this survey as it allowed me to express alot of feelings about our ice babies that have been supressed.

Here is the link

Edited by joshuakalan, 15 April 2011 - 11:38 PM.

#23 mickey78

Posted 16 April 2011 - 10:16 PM

Yet another one with no idea what to do with frozen embryos.  We have one on the way and 7 still on ice.  We know that we only want 2 or 3 children so there is a fairly good chance that we will have excess embryos (first one from the batch was sticky and the other 7 were of good quality).  Both DH and I have a problem with discarding them but knowing we probably won't use them all that leaves us with donation to another couple or research.  For now we are happy to pay the storage fees and make the decision later.

#24 Lokum

Posted 17 April 2011 - 10:10 PM

QUOTE (42n8 @ 15/04/2011, 05:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I do see my remaining embryos as 'future' children. And, I believe giving a child up for adoption is the ultimate gift from a mother to that child - not just the adopting parents.  I would rather my embryos (my children) be gifted a life that I cannot give them than be left in a freezer waiting, and waiting and then (most likely) ultimately being destroyed.  I went through so much to create those embryos and I feel it's my responsibility as their mother to follow through and give them their chance at life even if I cannot be the one to give it.


Wow, this really resonates with me. DH is of the view that they are a bunch of cells, and can be discarded with no backward glance, whereas if they became someone else'a child with our genetic makeup it would be an issue/difficult.

I already feel something like the 'mother' of these embryos, and that I owe them something. I sort of think of them like an unwanted PG... I mean we hope to have at least one more child, and only have two embryos on ice, so may never confront the issue. But if we did have more embryos and felt like no more children, I think I would have to transfer them at the right time in a cycle, (but maybe without artificial luteal support?), and what happens happens... but I couldn't terminate a PG, so I at least owe these embryos a chance.

OTOH, I haven't faced ill-health, divorce, widow-hood, major financial problems or other issues which could really make an unwanted PG a major challenge... it's really, really tough.

I wonder why we don't freeze eggs and sperm, and mix up an embryo each time we want to transfer? Is it cost? Do eggs deteriorate so much from freeze and thaw? No-one would much care about discarding frozen eggs would they?

#25 larms1

Posted 18 April 2011 - 05:56 PM

Just another perspective, I am an adopted child who is eternally grateful to her birth mother.  I have nothing but love and respect for her.  I don't know her, I was adopted in a time when it could only be anonymous.

I have always known I was adopted.  

It was a selfless act that has allowed me to grow up in a loving but crazy family who, when I was growing up referred to me as their 'special gift', I married an amazing man and have been lucky to naturally conceive a beautiful baby boy (and give my parents a grandchild who they adore).

I just wanted to let those who are undecided about what to do, please consider the life you can give to those who can't conceive and the embryos as having the potential to be someone's 'special gift'.

Please note I am not even vaguely a religious person and this is not a 'Christian' message, it's just an opinion that you can take or leave.

Thank you 42n8, you inspired me to write this reply.

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