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Embryo Disposition Options

Many infertility patients end infertility treatment with frozen embryos remaining and must decide what to do with these unused leftover embryos. Their options include: donating to another couple for family building, donating to research, thawing and discarding (including compassionate transfer), or continuing indefinite storage. In the US, your options may be limited by state law.


Where to Start
Resources for Exploring Options
Research
Resources for Donating Embryos to Another Family
Resources for Donating Embryos to Research
Resources for Thawing and Discarding Embryos

Where to Start:

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Resources for Exploring Embryo Donation Options/General Information:

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Research on Embryo Disposition:

  • Fertility patients views about frozen embryo disposition: results of a multi-institutional U.S. survey Lead author Anne D. Lyerly Fertility and Sterility Sept. 2008. This is the largest survey (1000 patients) on what patients with leftover embryos want to do with them. The majority preferred to donate to research. Full text is at Duke, but a good article summarizing the research is at Medical News Today.

  • Disposition of cryopreserved embryos by infertility patients desiring to discontinue storage. Lead author Susan Lanzendor. Fertility and Sterility March 2009 59% preferred donating to scientific research, 38% discarding, and 3% donating to a known or anonymous person/couple for attempted pregnancy. An abstract is available at Fertility & Sterility.

  • How couples who have undergone in vitro fertilization decide what to do with surplus frozen embryos. Lead author Robert D. Nachtigall. Fertility and Sterility December 2009 An abstract is available at Fertility & Sterility.

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Resources for Donating Unused Embryos to Another Family for Family Building:

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Resources for Donating Unused Embryos to Research:

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Resources for Thawing and Discarding Unused Embryos:

  • We could find no reputable unbiased resources explaining the mechanics of how embryos are thawed and discarded, other than the Creating a Family radio show: What Should I Do With My Leftover Frozen Embryos . In this show we discussed with an embryologist, a reproductive endocrinologist, an ethicist, and a legal scholar how embryos are thawed and discarded. We also discussed the option of having the embryos transferred into the woman's body during a non fertile time, a process known as "compassionate transfer".

  • Creating a Family show titled Compassionate Transfer/Disposal Ceremony for Embryo Disposal (Listen Now)
  • Talk with your infertility clinic or cryopreservation facility about their procedure for thawing and discarding.

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