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Unused Embryos – What to Do?

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One of the many decisions that Intended Parents will make during the fertility process and during the surrogacy process will surround what to do with unused embryos.   Their options include:  a) destroy them: b) donate them for stem cell research; c) donate them to another family; d) keep them frozen.

By choosing to keep them frozen the couple risks losing control of the final disposition of the remaining embryos. What will happen in the event of a divorce? The death of a spouse? The death of both parents?  Further, there are yearly costs to keep the embryos frozen.

I became very tuned into this quandary when a former client and friend called me to talk about the difficult decision she was faced with.  She did not want to continue paying hundreds of dollars each year to keep the embryos frozen but really was not comfortable destroying them or givingthem to science.  She had embryos that had been frozen for about 7 or 8 years and found out about embryo donation through the fertility clinic where she had her embryos stored.  Fascinated by this possibility of giving the gift of life to another family in need she began her journey.  She found an agency who handled embryo adoptions, completed reams of paperwork and agreed to a open embryo adoption relationship.  A couple of months later she was introduced to the family who would adopt her embryos.  They had faced years of infertility but the costs of donor eggs were just too much and embryo adoption in which fees are paid for the administration of the process but not for the embryos represented a major cost savings.  My former client and friend kept me updated as the months went by.  One day she called and said, “Well, you are not going to believe this but the couple who adopted our embryos are pregnant!  There were touch and go moments during this pregnancy and then one day I got the call from my friend:  “Guess what?  It’s a boy!”

It was truly a beautiful and miraculous moment and gift of life that my friend gave to this family.   It is certainly an option worth considering.

What are your thoughts?

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