Embryo Donation: You Will Love This Little One Growing in You


The marriage of frozen embryo transfer and embryo donation was a perfect one for RSC, and may be for you as well

A couple, smiling about pursuing embryo donation| RSC of The San Francisco Bay Area It was not just the first but also the second Christmas card I received this year in my office. And my heart warmed. I felt the goodness all the way down to my toes. These were cards from people that grew their families through embryo donation.

It doesn’t really surprise me and yet it does. The human heart is so capable of love. I tell this to my patients frequently: “You will love this little one that is growing in your belly. It’s human nature. It does not have to share your genetics to gain your love. Many patients look at me with wondering minds – will I really love them? Will I question whether I should have done this?”

Frozen embryo transfers of Molly and Emma make news

Embryo donation has quietly been increasing in frequency despite the many hurdles that couples must overcome both to donate and to receive embryos. Recently, Molly and Emma made the headlines for being the 2 oldest embryos in cryopreservation that subsequently have been born. Molly and Emma were created in 1992 and then through a generous donation they were transferred to another couple. This couple conceived through 2 frozen embryos transfers- 2 years ago for Emma and then again this year for Molly.

At Reproductive Science Center, we too celebrate embryo donation miracles. Freezing embryos has been one of our strongest laboratory accomplishments through what is known as cryopreservation. At first it was through a technique called “slow freezing.”

Our shift to vitrification brought even better frozen blastocyst embryo success!

Since that initial success, RSC had continued to have some of the best success rates in the nation. Therefore, we were hesitant to change to the newer technology of vitrification, as our success with slow freezing was better than many clinics with vitrification. But when we finally made the switch, we found that we were even better with vitrification! Our current thaw survival rate is 99% for blastocyst embryos.

This improvement in technology has allowed many other advancements in the field of IVF (in vitro fertilization). It has allowed us to feel confident in our vitrification to allow “freeze all cycles.” These are cycles where we can avoid the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which can be a life-threatening complication of IVF.

It has also allowed us to embrace more fully preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) – the technology where embryos are biopsied and frozen, and then the results of the biopsy are able to help us prioritize genetically normal embryos for transfer. It simplifies gestational carrier cycles and is even now being used to create egg banks to help people who cannot produce healthy eggs for conception.

Frozen embryo cycles have also been shown to be more successful in women over 35, women with endometriosis, and women who have elevated progesterone. Recent data indicates babies born from IVF have a lower chance of being small for gestational age, as their placentas may be healthier when the implantation occurs in a frozen transfer cycle. Frozen cycles also allow patients to plan for a specific day for transfer and to manage the stress of work and other commitments to make the IVF process less stressful.

The double blessing of embryo donation for those using IVF

So, the marriage of frozen embryo transfer and embryo donation was a perfect one for RSC. We could use our good success rates to help another couple benefit from the extra embryos that can be left after a family has had all the children they desire. It is difficult to make just the right number of embryos that will turn into babies for an IVF couple.

For many, this presents a moral dilemma. They want to do IVF but don’t want to be left having to discard unused embryos. If a couple is accepting of the option to donate embryos to another patient, then that is a great blessing to two families.

“For the donating patient or couple, they have the knowledge that they have helped another person while also being able to find closure to their journey. For the receiving couple, they have the opportunity to become a family (or larger family) at a lower cost and with less medical risk. For the embryo, it gets a chance to become a baby!
– Dr. Hinckley

Embryo donation has always been a part of our treatment options at RSC. We also had a moment in the spotlight when a 19-year-old embryo was donated and resulted in a healthy baby!

But the spotlight moments are not why we spend our time and energy to perfect the vitrification process and coordinate embryo donation cycles. For each person who comes into our clinic, we want to give them the best chance at becoming a family. There are many different paths for many different types of people, and we at RSC feel strongly that we want to help each person cultivate the perfect path for creating family.

If you want to learn more about embryo donation and the steps necessary to build your family in this way, please contact us online.

Mother kissing little baby at home

Breaking Barriers, Building Families

Since 1983, we have pioneered fertility treatment for every kind of family. We want to help you achieve your dream of having a baby.

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