Thursday, June 7, 2012

Things I learned about embryo adoption

I pretty much take this all as close to fact.  I may have transcribed it incorrectly or misheard something, but I took notes during the conversation.  I guess it is my cheap disclaimer and invitation for challenges or corrections.

I talked at length with my RE last night.  Funny, I avoided saying her name.  I still want to call her by the formal title of "Dr. Fantastic", but we are now in the Mostly Friends stage of our relationship.  Add the fact that I was documenting every word that came out of her mouth... well, it felt like old times.  I just don't feel worthy of being on a first name basis with her.

I adore my RE.  Every patient should be so lucky to have such a dedicated person in her corner.  She talked about embryo donation as a physician, a mother, and as a woman who has her own embryos on ice.  Yes, the Good Doctor is not only the President but a member too.  Of course she is.

On my road to the crib, I asked my RE about donor embryos.  It seemed like it was a lifetime ago.  The only thing I could remember about the conversation was her reaction: negative.

I had to go back there.  I had to turn over that rock.  I have been in knots waiting for this conversation.  If anyone could shake my commitment to donating our embryos, it would be her.  I don't know what to make of that statement.  I am not wavering in my decision, but I could easily be knocked off the rails by the right arguments from her.  I have consistently put so much faith in her guidance.  What would I do if she pulled back the curtain to show me all the ugliness I didn't know about embryo adoption.  How could I turn my back on the information.

In summary, her negativity about embryo donation was from a recipient's point of view, mostly centered on the poor quality of the available embryos.  Recipient couples wait to be matched, process the adoption, prepare for the transfer and often find the embryos do not survive the thaw.  Can you imagine.  What a brutal crusher.

She said that embryo donors are typically in their 40's.  Now of course I got all fired up about what woman in her 40's is spitting out excess embryos, but that is beside the point.  Ever the jealous Infertile, I am.

Most embryos are still sitting on ice.  Tens of thousands.  The ones couples want are going nowhere slow.  The optimal efficacy for embryos is less than five years.  As couples decide what comes next, each passing year lessens the likelihood of implantation.

Success rates are also greatly impacted in the whole process of creating the embryo.  My clinic is very selective about what is worthy to freeze but many clinics are freezing day 1 or day 6 embryos.  Just because it is a frozen embryo doesn't mean they were all created equally.

I wonder why the older couples are the ones donating the embryos.

She said our types of embryos are very rare.  The caliber of the clinic, the youth egg, the quality of the blast, the freezing process.  Not just rare, very rare.

I am glad I confronted the fear of what my RE would say about the donation process.  If anything, it helps to strengthen my intent to donate.  I don't know that the recipient couple that sparked the research will be the right match for us.  Rocco and I both felt like the wind was knocked out of us when the donation felt more immediate.  Need to understand why.  We need to make sure this is still our plan, but I feel a little stronger about it today.


  1. this is very interesting information, thanks for sharing.
    I think it is amazing that you guys are donating, especially donating such rock star embryos

  2. Our embryos that are being donated to us are coming from the Cooper Center in New Jersey and are 3 days . The average age of the mom is usually in her early 30's and has had a successful pregnancy and has finished her family. They do accept donations from outside clinics if you are looking for a place to donate your embryos. Their success rate with donor embroyos FETs is very high, last year it was over 60 percent. I have found them to be very easy to work with as well.

    1. I was so happy to see someone respond who is working with Cooper. I have my consult in 2 days with them and have soo many questions. This is a great place of info since not alot of people have info for newbies like me. I love learning from other people. Any interest in emailing me your experience with Cooper? My consult is with Dr. Cohen.

  3. Im so proud of you. As someone who has de embryos i have thought about embryo donation as a way of giving back, but when push comes to shove i just dont know if i could/would go through with it.

    I admire you. You are one awesome mamma!

  4. Oh, how fascinating. It sounds like you have an amazing gift to offer someone, if it ends up feeling right. And if it doesn't, you guys seem plenty strong enough to take that seriously.

  5. I am so glad you were able to have this important conversation with your RE. It sounds like it shed a lot of light on part of the process one would only know if they are working in the field.
    As we were thinking of options after our last failed attempt, we strongly considered embryo adoption in our province. I think the issue you raised in your post had partly occured to me and gave me pause. I assumed that statistically, the embryos would come from infertile couple, albeit successful in their IVF treatments or else they wouldn't donate. I figured this would lower our chances, since to begin with, there was an infertility problem.
    Donating DE embryos is another ball game altogether as far as recipients are concerned. The eggs were selected specifically for their youth and lack of risk factors.
    I am not surprised that you want to donate your embryos, Roccie. You have wrestled with these questions and had your heart torn to shreds in the process of becoming a mom. You know the value of the gift. And you know how precious these embryos are and that they could be used to create a life (or more than one). Even if I am not surprised by your intentions, I am deeply touched by your generosity.

  6. i'm gonna have a lotta questions later on, should we have an embryo to give away (can you just give away one)? we have 2 frosties, but will use 1 at a time to hopefully have a second baby (but not yet, bc P only JUST started sleeping through the night so i need to soak this in for quite a while yet). the thought of twins gives me a rash, and i don't think i could handle more than 2 kids, so if the first one works (*knock on wood*), we'd be done. would be awful to give away 1 embryo and not have it work out though, which is why i'm wondering if you can put only 1 up for adoption. i'm just talking aloud here, don't mind me. anyways, just wanted to say hi hi. have been mia but thinking of you. hope you guys are doing well~!! xoxo.

  7. You fill me with questions. And I miss you.

  8. Fascinating about the donors. I had not realized that. It makes sense, though. Older women (ahem) who had a rough go of it, who are aware that others are still walking that road. Makes sense they would want to make someone else's burden that much easier.

    (Your RE sounds wonderful).

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