27 November 2017

Embryo donation the ultimate altruistic gift of life

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Written by

IVF Australia

60Minutes program, Channel 9 last night, provided some insight into the sensitive and highly personal decision-making around embryo donation. Today, as the science of IVF progresses, some couples who have completed their families via IVF may have additional embryos in storage and find themselves facing the decision of what to do with them; donation to research, donation to another couple or simply allowing the storage to be ended.

Many couples will consider embryo donation for a number of reasons, including:

• A belief it is ethically preferable to donate rather than to dispose of embryos

• A feeling of compassion for other couples struggling with fertility

Embryo donation can either occur between a donor and recipient who already know each other, or it can be facilitated through IVFAustralia’s Embryo Donors website between potential donors and recipients who are not previously known to each other.

While the medical process of donation is relatively simple, the emotional process can be very difficult. At IVFAustralia, we follow the NSW legislation guiding the length of time that people can keep their frozen embryos in storage unless they have nominated to donate them. We work with couples to give them the time and the space to make these sensitive decisions.

“Deciding what to do about your stored embryos is a very personal matter. It is critically important that when you are considering this, that you should take your time, including having the assistance of formal counselling. Our aim, as health professionals, is to help you reach the decision that is going to be the right one for you and your own family, both today and into the future.” said Associate Professor Peter Illingworth.

Under NSW legislation, embryos (as with sperm or eggs) that have been donated can only be kept for a maximum of 15 years in storage and all donors’ and recipients’ details are recorded on a central NSW Health Department register for the benefit of the children created to access information about their biological parents when they turn 18 years of age. It is up to the parents of the child to tell the child, at the time that that they think it’s appropriate, the way in which the child was conceived.

Our experience has been that providing the child with clear information about their genetic origins is a critical part of the future welfare of both the child and the family as a whole.

For further information regarding IVFAustralia’s embryo donation program please contact us on 1800 111 483.

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