For various reasons, some infertile patients do not want to destroy the embryos left after the completion of infertility treatment. As a result, numerous frozen embryos have been collected in fertility clinics throughout the United States. Instead of destroying surplus embryos or storing them forever, infertile patients can donate them to other people or couples for use in reproduction.
What do we know about embryo donation?
Several female eggs are retrieved and fertilized during IVF treatment with the male’s sperm to make embryos. The couple or woman who produced the biomaterial may not utilize all of them for current or future implantation. They need to decide the fate of extra embryos. Donating such embryos to another couple or woman who cannot produce viable embryos gives them the chance to achieve a pregnancy that would otherwise be impossible.
Modern embryo donation is a beautiful gift that will benefit both the woman/couple who donated the embryo and the recipient woman. The donor side benefits from knowing that unused embryos have a chance at life, while the recipient side benefits from the opportunity to experience pregnancy and become parents.
What about the baby?
A study of the needs and psychological consequences of conception from a donor began recently, but there are already first results:
- Often, children conceived by donors are interested in their donor «family». One study of donor-conceived adults who were conceived with the help of sperm donors found that 90 percent had little to no information about their donor.
- Some children conceived by a donor may have a «feeling» that something is wrong. In cases where families try to keep a donor’s conception a secret, some children may grow up feeling that something is wrong. They may also wonder why they don’t look like their relatives.
- Most experts believe that children should be told that a donor conceives them. Although it was once thought that it was best to keep donor conception a secret from children, today, specialists believe it is best, to be honest with children.
- The decision to start your family through third-party reproduction can be emotional and challenging. Part of this decision includes considering what kind of relationship with a donor could benefit you and your potential donor-begotten child.
There are no right or wrong answers; it needs to be thoughtfully and carefully discussed with a therapist familiar with the complexity of donor concepts so that you can feel you have made the only right decision.