Monday, January 8, 2007


Donating embryos is an act that has lifetime repercussions. The recipients' children may want to meet the donors or their kids. If a medical issue comes up which has a genetic link, the two (or more) families may need to work together to make sure all the children stay healthy. Even if nothing bad happens, donor and recipient families may have lifetime contact, and that could be wonderful or not.

Donors must choose wisely to make sure their are not burdening their genetic offspring with unhappiness. But recipients need to be careful too.

I found a pretty scary embryo donor ad publicly posted on an embryo donation website. It is not a secret. Anyone can see it, but they must register first. Accordingly I have faithfully paraphrased the information.

Title : Searching for a family to love our baby...

We have a beautiful female blastocyst (6-day old embryo). I want to hear from married couples who are hoping and praying for a child. I know a single embryo can be hard to place but I'm always praying for a nice family for her to be born into. I have a picture of our blastocyst's "big sister". Please contact me so I can send you the photo, and I am certain you will agree that we made a beautiful baby girl!!! I can only get pregnant through IVF and we wanted to have a boy, so we did PGD to make sure any embryo we implanted was a boy. Unfortunately, it did not work for us. Now we have our perfect female embryo and she needs a family.

The donor goes on to say that she is Caucasian and her husband is from the Indian subcontinent and of Indian (not Native American) descent.

Are you looking for donor embryos? Run away from this donor as fast as you can. Do you see what gives me the creeps about this listing? Reading between the lines it is obvious what is going on here. This couple had a daughter. The wife wanted another baby. The husband is from a culture where sons are prized. He agreed to have another child as long as they used PGD to ensure they only implanted male embryos. The woman was in her 40's and produced few healthy eggs. When the male embryos did not "take" this couple's chances for a son were over so they had a left-over female embryo.

The wife still dreams of having a daughter from this embryo. She has privately named her and elevated her to the status of an actual baby. That's why she describes her repeatedly as "ours" and as "beautiful". Remember, she's discussing a microscopic ball of eight cells, not a real baby or even an embryo. It's a pre-embryo.

The sense of ownership and intricate fantasy life this woman has built around her embryo mean she is not really interested in giving the embryo away. She is going to be destroyed emotionally when this pre-embryo fails to become a baby, and chances are that is just what will happen. Besides the fact that it was created from 40-something year old eggs, fertilized eggs frozen on day six are much less likely to thaw and grow than those frozen upon fertilization.

If the pre-embryo does become a baby, this woman is always going to see the baby as "hers". She will never see the baby's parents as legitimate. They are a convenience, raising "her" child because her husband does not value female children.

Are you considering donating your unused embryos to an infertile couple? You owe it to everyone involved to carefully examine your motives first. If your goal is to get another couple to give birth to "your" baby or worse, your "beautiful daughter", you have not yet reached a healthy mindframe for embryo donation.

There is simple too much baggage attached to the egg described above. It is a testament to the desperation of potential recipients that a match is already pending between this donor and someone willing to overlook all the red flags furiously waving in her post. I wish them nothing but luck and happiness. But I wouldn't want to be the child who might result from this donation. Not everyone is emotionally ready or capable of donating their embryos. This is the most egregious example of that fact I could have possibly found.