This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
The Parents Via Egg Donation Organization: Who's Embryos Are They Really

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Who's Embryos Are They Really

I am bothered.  Over the past year I have spoken to patient after patient who has sought out my advice regarding their left over embryos.  The scenario is almost always the same:
The couple or single mom has sought out an egg donor.  They have created their family.  They have completed their family.  They have anywhere from two to 20 embryos left over.  Now that their children are here they cannot fathom discarding their embryos, destroying their embryos or donating them to science.  Ninety-nine percent of the patients would like to donate their embryos to another couple like them who have been trying to have a child via egg donation.
But often they cannot and their hands are tied.  Why?  Because when they originally selected their egg donor in their legal contract they agreed not to donate embryos to anyone else.  They agreed to use all of the embryos, keep them frozen, or donate them to science or destroy them – or in some cases get permission from the egg donor to donate those embryos, but again only with her permission.
This causes much angst and frustration for the recipient parents – and frankly it’s puzzling and concerning to me.  Which brings me to my question:
Who’s embryos are they – really?
 Is it really egg donation if the intended parents don’t have a say in what happens to their left over embryos?  Some in the industry feel that intended parents are buying eggs.  If that’s true and intended parents are buying “property” then is the property they are buying really theirs if they don’t have complete autonomy in regards to what happens to those eggs once they become embryos?
While I can appreciate an egg donors concern over where her genetics are going to be used this reinforces my feelings even more that all egg donors aside from taking an MMPI really need to have a meaningful and real conversation with a psychologist to talk about these very things.  And if an egg donor has issues with what happens to left over embryos than maybe egg donation isn’t the right fit for her.  And that is fine too – not everyone in the world is cut out to be an egg donor – you don’t find out until you begin the preliminary process.
Where am I going with all of this?  For starters be very clear and decided about what you want.  Regardless of how amazing your egg donor is the bottom line is-- if the legal contract comes back and states that the egg donor wants control over left over embryos (i.e. you are only allowed to dispense of them a specific way) and you are not okay with that then you need to really rethink some things, namely if this is the right egg donor for you.
Really at the end of the day regardless of how warm and fuzzy you all might be feeling about each other this is business transaction.  Money is going to be exchanged between two parties.  The compensation you pay your egg donor is for her time, her trouble, inconvenience, and regardless of how much we want to sugar coat things you are receiving eggs in exchange.  The moment those eggs are fertilized with sperm they become yours and no longer hers.  And I feel you should have the right to do whatever you want with those embryos and not have your hands tied and options limited because you agreed to allow your egg donor to have final say in what happens to your embryos.


Anonymous Craig R. Sweet, M.D. said...

We have dealt with this issue in the past and also obtained legal counsel on the issue. I think there are a few important points:

• The eggs are being donated to an individual or couple who have legal right to them.
• The egg recipient has the option to transfer or discard them.
• Unless the contract the egg donor signs has specific limits, the decision regarding disposition should be up to the egg recipient.

When we are asked to receive embryos created from donor material, we do our best to obtain a copy of the consent the person donating the material signed. This is true for egg or sperm donors. If there are stipulations present regarding these issues, we feel we must do our best to honor them. If, however, the contract is not available, the decision of what to do with the embryos should be made but those who have legal rights to them.

The concern regarding the egg donor's consent is a guideline and not law. We accept embryos created from donated materials all the time. In fact, it would seem that embryos created from donor material are some of the most likely to be donated.

Many of these issues could be circumvented by using appropriate language in egg/sperm donor consents. We have done just that in my practice and our consents are available on-line for review. We let the donor know that the recipient may use the cryopreserved embryos for personal use, donate to science, donate to single women, single men or lesbian/homosexual/heterosexual couples or donate them for stem cell research. We feel this covers all aspects and the egg donor is perfectly able to discontinue the process with this information in mind.

While some might cringe at the thought of comparing embryos to property, this is generally how they are viewed by the legal system. If you were to reimburse someone for a car engine, install it in a car missing an engine and then donate the fully-functioning car to someone who needed it, is it really necessary that the owners get permission from the person who provided the original engine?

I hope that you do not mind a response from a physician but we have been performing embryo donation since 2001. There are many misconceptions (no pun intended) about the embryo donation process and we hope to better educate the reproductive community over the next number of months. This seemed like a good place to start.

I hope this helps and good luck in all that you do.

Craig R. Sweet, M.D.
Reproductive Endocrinologist
Medical & Laboratory Director
Specialists In Reproductive Medicine & Surgery, P.A.
Embryo Donation International



December 18, 2010 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this post.


December 29, 2010 at 4:13 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home