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Embryo Donation

Embryo donation is a well-established and successful form of assisted reproduction. Embryo donation has Intended Parents relying upon other Intended Parents who themselves are using In Vitro Fertilization. The donation occurs because two sets of Intended Parents "share" a fresh cycle or because the second set of Intended Parents receives a "secondary donation" of frozen fertilized eggs. Some programs term embryo donation as an "embryo adoption". The use of the word "adoption" here is misleading because with no child, there is no legal requirement to appear before a court to transfer parentage.

While the medical protocol for embryo donation mirrors that of egg donation, other aspects may be more exacting. More specifically, as the number of genetic participants in the fertility cycle increase, the amount of medical information required by the second set of Intended Parents increases as well. A properly designed donation program will be sure that the donor intended parents and recipient intended parents will be adequately counseled on the psychological, moral and legal implications of embryo donation before it occurs.

Certain sets of Intended Parents may be more appropriate for embryo donation than others. A medical consideration which may cause embryo donation to be recommended is when both partners are infertile. Here the female partner doesn't have ovaries, has ovaries which do not produce eggs, or has so-called 'resistant ovarian syndrome'.

Alternatively, the female partner may be carrying a sex-linked disease such as hemophilia, Duchenne's muscular dystrophy or Huntington's chorea. The male partner will present himself with a low sperm count or immotile sperm.

Another medical issue arises with a fetal chromosomal abnormality. The standard medical management for persons, who fit a high risk profile, includes amniocentesis and ultrasound translucency measurements. While these tests can demonstrate possible problems, generally the only available option is a termination of the pregnancy. Intended Parents fitting the high risk profile can elect pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), a pre-implantation embryo biopsy and then a transfer of normal embryos. Unfortunately these tests are very expensive.

Embryo donation offers an ability to resolve these fertility issues be they caused by a genetic, anatomic or physiologic disability because the genetic participants are themselves screened by the IVF clinic. In addition, because the embryos are shared with another Intended Parent, the IVF cost is proportionately decreased.

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