What is embryo donation?
What is embryo donation? The founders of EM•POWER with Moxi answer our questions
Many people who have gone through IVF have embryos remaining after completing their IVF journey. And on the other side, many others go through IVF without ever having any viable embryos. EM•POWER with Moxi was founded by Maya, Gina and Jen – three women who are personally and professionally connected to embryo donation. They each experienced their own unique family-building journeys and understand the emotional complexity of making decisions regarding embryo donation. They started EM•POWER to provide education, support and community to others considering these complex decisions. Thank you to Maya, Gina and Jen for speaking with us and answering the most frequently asked questions about embryo donation.
Can you tell us about EM•POWER with Moxi?
EM•POWER with Moxi is the premier hub of education and support for the embryo donation community. It is important to have a community in what can be an isolating experience. EM•POWER helps people make informed decisions about their embryos and their family-building for both themselves and their future family by providing free resources through virtual events, genetic counseling studies, research projects, and more. We are also working to help potential embryo donors and potential embryo recipients connect and match, so that the overall process can be more seamless and accessible.
What is embryo donation?
Embryo donation is both a disposition option for remaining embryos, and a family-building choice.
On the IVF journey, people often want to create as many embryos as possible. Then, many people have embryos remaining after they have completed their IVF journey. Studies show people are often paralyzed by having to make a decision for their remaining embryos and end up storing embryos for 5+ years before really considering a decision. One of EM•POWER’s goals is to help people understand ALL their choices for their embryos and support those interested in learning more about donating embryos to another person or couple for family building.
Embryo donation is also a family-building option. People come to embryo donation for several reasons, perhaps they have tried other fertility procedures without success, perhaps they are single people who need both egg and sperm, perhaps they are a couple looking for genetic equity between partners…there are various reasons why people consider embryo donation. We want to provide the education and support needed for people to make the best decisions for themselves, as a potential donor or recipient.
Why do we call this embryo donation and not embryo adoption?
While the terms embryo donation and embryo adoption are often used interchangeably, embryo donation is different from adoption. The process of adopting children has very different logistical and legal requirements than receiving a donated embryo. There are concerns around issues of personhood of an embryo when using adoption language. The preferred terminology is embryo donation.
Can you donate embryos if you conceived via egg donation or sperm donation?
All genetic contributors to an embryo must consent to re-donation. If you are working with an egg or sperm donor and think you may have remaining embryos, you can discuss making sure re-donation is an option with your legal team. If you already have embryos created with the help of a donor that you are considering donating, you will need to look at your legal contracts to make sure they have consented. If you wish to donate and don’t have that consent, it may be possible to get your donor’s permission after the fact by working with your attorney and communicating with your sperm bank or donor agency to get releases. It is often a possibility, but the specifics of your agreement and your donor’s choice will determine if you are able to donate.
Is there a time limit for embryo donation? Can you donate embryos that are several years old?
Internationally, some countries have year limits for embryo storage, but the U.S. does not. So far, in the United States there is not a time limit on embryo donation. Older embryos have been successfully used to conceive. However, technology has changed, and different embryo freezing technology and thaw rate will impact success of embryo use and pregnancy. As time goes on, more and more parents will be making decisions about their embryos, so this may come up more. Over 1 million embryos are stored, and fertility preservation is increasing that number, so we expect this topic to evolve in the future.
What do people look for in matching with an embryo recipient or donor?
Embryo donation is different from egg donation or sperm donation in the sense that full genetic siblings will be raised in different homes with different parents, and that often, both donors and recipients are looking for open relationships to give the children an opportunity to connect. In the open matching process, people are, perhaps, less focused on specific physical traits, but are understanding that the embryo is already created and the “match” may be more important. The focus is more on the fit of the families. Shared values and ability to have open conversations are important. At EM•POWER we focus a lot on long-term family functioning and the specific needs of children impacted by embryo donation (both the children of donors and the donor conceived), because we know this is a very unique and fairly new family form that requires a good amount of education and support.
Thank you again to Maya, Gina and Jen for speaking with us about all things embryo donation. We hope this helps people better understand all of their options. If you have any questions about embryo donation, check out EM•POWER with Moxi , and if you have any questions about third-party fertility options, you can speak with a Donor Concierge case manager today.
Interested in building your family with Donor Concierge? Schedule your free consultation today.