Thursday, November 23, 2006


There is a lot of confusion surrounding embryo donation. Legally, in the United States, embryo donation is a transfer of property. It has the same status as giving someone your car or your collection of mystery novels or any other item you own.

The difference between giving someone embryos and giving them a book or a banana is that a child may result from the gift of embryos. Or not. Depending on the cause of infertility and the skill of the fertility clinic performing the embryo transfer, the success rate per embryo transferred ranges from 17% to 65%. That means that as few as one out of every six embryos transferred will become a baby. An embryo is not a baby, it is a potential baby.

In nature, the success rate per fertilized human embryo is only 25%. Three of every 4 conventionally conceived pregnancies end in miscarriage before the woman is even aware she is pregnant. The fertilized egg just fails to implant in the womb.

For these reasons, it is wrong to say that spare embryos in fertility clinics are children. They simply are not. Most frozen embryos do not have the potential to become children just as most naturally conceived embryos will not become a child.

Embryo donation is not adoption. But just as I would screen a person to whom I was giving a cherished family heirloom or a kitten, an embryo donor has the right to make sure the prospective recipients will be good parents if a child does result from the donation.

My donation of my spare embryos may or may not result in a child. If it does, I want to make sure I picked the best parents possible for this precious gift.