Common questions about embryo donation

What is the process for treatment with embryo donation?

If you undergo IVF treatment using embryo donation with NOW-fertility, the journey will be the same as going through a Frozen Embryo Transfer cycle, except for the screening tests and counselling which form an integral part of the pre-treatment programme for embryo donation.

The endometrium of the recipient will be prepared using a combination of oestrogen and progesterone in advance of the embryo transfer. A trial transfer may be done before scheduling the transfer of the embryo(s).

Additional medications and adjuvants may be prescribed depending on the individual case, either to enhance the chances of successful embryo implantation and/or to reduce the risk of miscarriage and pregnancy-related diseases.

What are the screening tests done for the donors?

  • The embryo donors should provide a detailed medical history and go through a series of screening blood tests to ensure that there are no infections that could be passed on to the recipient of the donated embryo(s) as well as there are no underlying known medical conditions that can affect the child(ren).
  • Testing on both the egg donor and the sperm donor includes HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, and Cytomegalovirus (CMV).
  • Further tests are taken from the donors for blood group, full blood count, electrophoresis, chromosome analysis (i.e., karyotype), cystic fibrosis screening and Human T cell Lymphotropic Viruses (HTLV 1 and 2). Additional tests, including comprehensive genetic analysis may be available in some cases.

How are the embryo recipients assessed?

  • A thorough review of medical, reproductive, surgical, and psychiatric histories.
  • Laboratory testing to include blood type, antibody screen, thyroid function, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases including HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, and Cytomegalovirus (CMV). 
  • Recipients must receive implications counselling by a fertility counsellor. 
  • If the recipient is over 45 years old, a more thorough evaluation should be done, including assessment of the heart, liver and kidney functions, and the risk of pregnancy-related diseases. Referral to a pre-conception clinic run by an obstetric consultant may also be advised.

Who can be an embryo donor?

  • Couples who have completed their families via assisted conception treatment and have surplus embryos in storage may consider donating these to help others.
  • Donors should undergo counselling on the implications of donating their surplus embryos and need to sign the relevant consent forms.
  • The chronological age of donors should be less 37 years for women and 50 years for men.
  • There should be no history of infectious and genetic diseases as well as no hereditary conditions in the family.

How are the embryo donors and recipients matched?

Patients who consider embryo donation will be given detailed donor profiles. These include non-identifying details such as physical characteristics (hair and eye colour, height, weight, build, skin colour), ethnicity, blood group, career, education, and fertility history.

How successful is embryo donation at achieving a pregnancy?

Success rates with embryo donation depend on various factors, including the quality of the embryo(s) at the time that they were frozen, the quality of the embryos after thawing, the age of the woman who provided the eggs, the quality of the sperm, and the recipient’s medical, fertility and obstetric histories.

What counselling is offered?

Both the embryo donors and the embryo recipient(s) should have implications counselling by a fertility counsellor who can discuss the implications related to the decision to donate and to receive embryos, respectively.

The counselling focuses on the emotional, legal, and ethical aspects of embryo donation as well as the prospects of their own child(ren) having siblings within a different family.

The recipient will have the opportunity to discuss the release of donor information and future contact between the donors and the child(ren) conceived through the use of donor embryo treatment.

What are the legal implications of donor embryo usage?

Depending on the legislation applicable in the country where the embryo donation treatment takes place, the recipients should seek legal advice from a family law firm with established expertise in human assisted conception. 

Where there is little legal precedent regarding the use of donor embryo(s), the recipient accepts full responsibility for the transferred embryo(s) and resulting child(ren).

The responsibility about any pregnancies and any legal aspects of the child(ren) born through embryo donation treatment lies with the recipient(s).

The recipient should release the assisted conception centre and the fertility professionals involved in the treatment from any and all liabilities about the pregnancy, congenital abnormalities, heritable diseases, and any other complications that may result from the embryo donation treatment.

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