Embryo donation is an option that is open to our IVF patients who have embryos that they do not wish to use themselves. They can “donate” or make their embryos available to other couples who are attempting pregnancy. The “recipient” couple uses the donated embryos instead of their own to attempt pregnancy. Embryo donation can be accomplished in two ways :
- At the time of the original IVF cycle
- At a later time using embryos previously frozen for a couple’s own use
The success of embryo donation depends in large part on the original center involved in the embryo freezing. Some centers are very proficient at freezing embryos and have high survival rates when thawing the embryos and high pregnancy rates using frozen embryos. Some centers do not do as well. The survival of frozen embryos is critically reliant on the program that froze them and less so with the center that thaws them. There are many other variables such as:
- The age of the woman providing the eggs
- The cause of the donating couple’s infertility
- The “quality” of the embryos when they were frozen
- The developmental stage of the embryos when they were frozen
- The number of frozen embryos available for donation
Generally speaking, embryo donation success rates will be lower if the female who provided the eggs is older, and if there were “egg” issues that contributed to her infertility. If there are fewer embryos available after the thaw there will be fewer for transfer and embryo donation pregnancy rates will be lower.
Babies that are conceived from embryo donation do not appear to be at any greater risks for birth defects or other problems than babies born from “fresh” in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments.