A donor embryo discussion thread??

(46 posts)(15 voices)
  1. Forgive me for being a little broad in this request but I don't even know yet the questions I need to ask or consider as we begin this journey.

    We are planning to donate our embryos, probably within the year. I've been to Miracles Waiting but that doesn't provide a place to discuss the ins and outs, mostly the emotional ones, of doing so.

    I would love to have a discussion if possible with families on both sides. Like I said, I don't even have the questions to ask - I wonder about the pitfalls and pluses of open donation (I definitely want open, although perhaps with an intermediary, like a social worker - does that happen??); how did people structure the ongoing relationship in order to make sure the bio siblings know each other exists; are there any guidelines or step-by-step suggestions out there; etc, etc...

    I'll search this site but unfortunately DE usually means Donor Egg so I'm not sure what I'll be able to extract - directing me to useful threads would be much appreciated!

    Thank you and happy new year!

  2. DimaR, i think this is a great idea. we have about 5 frozen embryos and i think they are good ones- at least the first two in the batch worked first try- but i have some hesitations and i guess wouldn't do it till this pg is over in april and everything is okay. and i guess i'm not 100% that i wouldn't want one more......

    i wouldn't want to donate except to people i knew or got to know. and i have no idea about the ups and downs of figuring out contact and so forth...

    so more questions than answers from me, i guess

    pilma

  3. I am pregnant with twins from a donor embryo cycle. We are newly pregnant and hope that we carry to term. I would be happy to discuss our journey so far.

    It was important to my husband and I that we have some kind of a relationship with our donor and we actually turned down two willing donors because they did not want a semi-open relationship. I am thrilled about the relationship we have with our donor and am so happy we found each other.

    I'd be happy to answer any questions or to share more of our experiences.

  4. michalsudol,

    I wanted to know how many embies did you get and how many did you transfer,how many days old were them?

    Where did you get them from?

    Sorry for all the questions!

    Good luck in your pregnancy journey!

    Thanks,

    Natash`.

  5. We joined Miracles Waiting in June, got several offers for embryos throughout June and July. My donor contacted me through email in July and I called her immediately. We just seemed to hit it off from the start.
    There were 5 embryos in total (all grade one, 5 day blasts). We transferred the first two in October, but got a BFN. Went back in December and transferred the last three then. I am currently 5 weeks 5 days pregnant.

  6. michalsudol,

    That is so exciting - congratulations!

    So, first of all, you said you used Miracles in Waiting - was that a good experience?

    I'm glad to hear there are recipient couples who really want to be open - I was guessing it would be more one way (i.e. donors asking for openness) but it doesn't sound like that was your experience at all.

    So I do have a ton of questions but I'll try to take it slow. I guess, if you don't mind, we should keep this on the board instead of private for the benefit of others.

    What level of openness are you all going for? Did you meet the donors face-to-face? Did you draw up any sort of legal contract? There's a very good chance my family will be moving overseas within 5-6 years so we wouldn't be able to promise regular meetings but I'd want to make sure that there was something binding that said we'd at least send letters/emails/photos regularly and that their children would be aware that they had biological siblings (as ours would be).

    Thanks so much for chatting with me about this!

  7. DimaR,

    Thank you! I am hoping that this pregnancy is a viable one. We have our next ultrasound on Monday (moved up) to check for heartbeats. I really don't think I can withstand another miscarriage.

    Miracles Waiting was a good experience. There are many donors online and it is easy to contact people. I was pretty aggressive in my search and got replies from a few people.

    I met my donor face to face and it was amazing. She is so incredible and it was good for us to meet her. We traveled to her state for the transfer 9we didn't want to risk shipping the embryos) so I met her when we traveled for transfer. Our openness basically extends to keeping in touch via email about milestones (if we choose) and perhaps allowing the kids to meet one day (she has twins from her IVF cycle). It's important to both of us that our children know how they were conceived and that they have full blood siblings.
    We did not draw up a contract about how open each of us wanted things. My donor lives 3000 miles from us, so regular visits will not take place. I think we each just wanted to be up to date on each others' lives. I consider our donor a friend at this point and I can't imagine not keeping her up to speed.

    We had a very informal contract drawn up and signed by a notary public. The contract mainly said that she was turning over the embryos to us. It was very simple. I hope it doesn't come back to bite us later. I have been thinking about contacting a lawyer in the next couple of weeks just to be sure.

    I am very happy to talk about this, so bring on the questions!

  8. Thanks for starting this thread. I am planning on donating my embryo's (14) most top quality once I deliver. I want a semi-open adoption so we can keep contact with "babies" parents and siblings. I would love toknow all the information you ladies have to offer.

  9. I just completed my registration on Miracles Waiting and am very excited to start the process but should probably wait at least until we have this child! I'm 14 weeks pregnant. However, we have a lot of embies so I think, why not donate at least a few sets as soon as possible, especially since the months right after giving birth will be so busy, they might not be a good time to be going through the whole process. Will talk with DH about it tonight!

    How long did the process take start to finish, i.e. from contacting each other to completing the donation? Did their RE have any "problem" with you doing the transfer there? I'm not really sure how our clinic will treat it - if they would need the embryos shipped away or if they would allow someone to come in there for the transfer - I have a feeling they don't support embryo donation for some odd reason.

    What were your major concerns in accepting the donation, such as, age of bio parents, length of time frozen, previous successes, etc?

    Also, are there better and worse terms to use? Such as bio parents, birth parents, etc? Silly question, perhaps, but I don't want to offend and I'm entirely new to adoption/donation in any form.

    Thanks again! Let us know how your ultrasound goes!

  10. I think it's absolutely amazing that there are generous people like you who are willing to help those of us in need. It is truly the gift of life and as cheesy as it may sound, it is so very true.

    I would definitely wait until you deliver your baby to relinquish your embryos. You can get on there and peruse the recipients and if you find someone who fits your requirements (whatever those may be), then you can email then to tell them what your wishes are. Anyone who is in my position would likely be willing to wait a few months.

    I joined MW in June and was matched with my donor in July. Our first transfer was at the beginning of October and the second was in December. It all happened very quickly.

    My RE in my city actually recommended that we travel to the embryos because they were of the mindset that whomever freezes them, should thaw them. Every lab uses different media to thaw their embryos and even a slight shift in media from lab to lab can cause pH levels to go awry. My donor's RE has been nothing but incredibly helpful and the coordinators as well. It really has been a good experience. I have to say, though, that coordinating the monitoring with my clinic and the results with my donor's clinic was, at times, frustrating. Communication three ways is sometimes challenging.

    You can definitely ship the embryos to your own clinic and many women have had success in this way. If you are within the same country as your recipient, then there aren't many issues to contend with. My donor and I live in different countries, so taking human tissue across the border would have proven difficult. Not impossible, but expensive and difficult.

    All I was concerned about at the time of donation was the health of the embryos and how long they had been frozen. They had only been frozen for a year when we decided. Medical history of the donor couple made very little difference to me. I mean, who among us doesn't have heart disease, cancer, or other problems in our families? I wanted a donor who had enough embryos for at least two stabs at a family (for siblings). So the fact that she had 5 for us was great.

    I'm not very good with adoption terms or the like, but I hear a lot of people talking about "First Family". I think the term "Birth Mom" is offensive to some. When it comes to embryo adoption, who knows?

    I will definitely let you know how things go with the u/s. I'm terrified of another miscarriage, but I have to keep breathing....

  11. michalsudol, i had a couple questions for you, if i might:

    did the recipient couple give you all of their embryos? and did they stipulate anything- like how many to transfer at one time or anything? reason i ask is my dh is interested in trying to make sure recipient couple doesn't have HOMs- i don't think we could dictate this- but wondered what you thought.

    did miracles waiting charge you a fee? if you don't mind my asking, how much was it?

    did your RE say anything about differences in stats btw shipping and transfer on site? our RE will not do a transfer to a known recipient- and i refuse to donate anonymously, so ours would have to be shipped, i guess.

    i'm curious about your reasoning re when the embies were frozen. ours, for example, were frozen in august of 2006, which seems like a long time ago, but we had success with a frozen eset in aug of 2008. they were vitrified, which i understand ends up in more successful defrosting. would people be uninterested in ours b/c oftheir age?

    i know a great attorney for this kind of thing if you want one- she did our donor egg contract and charged a reasonable fee- $300 or so. pm me if you want her info- you don't have to be near her- she's in mass and we're in pa.

    thanks for sharing your wisdom and best to you on your pregnancy

    pilma

  12. pilma,

    We were given all five of our donor's embryos, but she did not stipulate how many we were able to transfer at a time. This is usually left up to the RE anyway. I wanted to transfer three the first time we traveled, but because of the quality of the embryos (they were grade one blasts - the best quality) he refused. You could definitely draw this up in a contract (restricting the number of embryos to transfer to 2-3 at a time depending on the quality and the age of the IP). My feeling, though, is that you want to find someone who shares your same thoughts on the matter. If your IP (intended parent) wants to transfer 5 and you want to restrict them to 2, then perhaps they are not the best match for you.

    For recipients, Miracles Waiting charges a $100 one time fee. I'm not sure if the donors are charged at all.

    My RE has had NO success in thawing embryos shipped from another lab. That said, I have read about other recipients shipping their embryos and achieving success.

    Your embryos are young. 2006 is not a long time to have been frozen. When I talk about age, I am referring to those embryos that have been frozen for 8 - 10 years. Some REs say that it makes no difference, but others disagree. If your embryos were frozen using vitrification, then the chances of them surviving a thaw are higher than if they had been frozen using the "slow cool" method. Many embryos frozen before 2006 were frozen using the slow cool method. Keep in mind that some clinics do not yet have the capability of thawing vitrified embryos. Whomever you choose will have to inquire about her lab and whether or not they can do the thaw.

    Thanks for the info on the lawyer, but I am not a US citizen. Makes things a little tricky.

    Best of luck to you, too in your search for a recipient!

  13. Great questions pilma and great info Kathleen! Thanks so much!

    There is no charge on Miracles Waiting for individuals planning to donate and there is a monitor of sorts - paloma - who is very quick to answer questions and so far very supportive.

    Thanks Kathleen for all the info on freezing and thawing - I had no idea about that aspect.

    In work and have to go but wanted to thank you before time got away!

  14. No worries! It's great to be able to share information like this with people who are so willing to do something so amazing for others.

    By the way, we saw TWO strong heartbeats today!!

  15. By the way, we saw TWO strong heartbeats today!!

    whoo, hoo!!

  16. Great news, Kathleen! How exciting!! I'm really happy for you!!

    Not much more for me to add at this point as far as our process goes. I started asking my clinic how they handle donations and have so far received no useful information. I can't recall exactly why but I remember getting a bad feeling from them when I brought it up once before. It may be good that we decided to start this early, even if we don't plan to complete the donation until the summer, because there is quite a lot of coordinating and exchange of information that is necessary among all parties.

    pilma - I re-read your first post about not being sure what you plan to do. My husband and I are *almost* 100% sure we wouldn't want another child - him more than me! - but he was actually the one who suggested we keep a few of our embryos for at least a couple of years. We have 18, frozen in batches of three at day 3. We had 24 to start and two successful FETs from the first two sets. My fresh cycle was June 2006 so they've been frozen since then. I'd like to donate those we plan to as soon as possible and then I guess take a little chance with keeping the others frozen longer yet probably ultimately donate them after a few more years.

    It will be very interesting to watch how the thinking evolves on embryo donation. There's a lot to be gleaned from both the relatively brief history of gamete donation coupled with the long-term history of adoption. I guess there are probably very few, if any, children from embryo donation old enough to know their reactions to it. Heck, the first "test tube" baby, a woman in England, is probably only about 30 years old now!! ART really is an incredibly new scientific and ethical frontier.

    One couple I've communicated with has one person who is adopted and another who has a grown child but really wants to carry another but doesn't have good eggs. The adopted partner wanted to grow their family through adoption so this is sort of an excellent compromise for them (and much lower cost than donor eggs and even regular adoption).

    Please, if there is anyone else out there who can add their stories or ask their questions, join us. This may become an important archive for others since this is really all so new.

    DimaR

  17. Hi! First, I wanted to thank pilma for pointing me toward this thread. I posted on the IVF side but I guess I should've come here first. We're also seriously considering donating our embryos. We have 5 frozen blasts that we'd like to donate. We were thinking about donating anonymously but then someone on this board suggested Miracles Waiting. I joined a couple of weeks ago and we found a couple that sounds great and we're now working with. I feel like I have a million questions for anyone who's been through the process but I'm not even sure where to begin. I'm really curious about the pluses and minuses of "open" donation and how "open" others plan to be with the other couple. I'm also wondering if anyone has any ideas on how to actually start the process from the donor perspective.

  18. We are trying to become recipients of donated embryos (and any suggestions welcome! ). We've spoken at length with our clinic to understand the process (for an open arrangement - may be different for a closed arrangement). Here's what I understand:

    1. Initial matching: Couple finds another willing to donate/receive embryos, they get along well with, have a general idea about level of openness, etc.

    2. Info gathering: The donor gathers the embryo report, the infectious disease test results, and any genetic testing that was done, and forwards the info to clinic/recipient. (They may also need to gather the IVF protocol used and/or original reasons for infertility or other background info. The clinic may not ask for it, but the recipient couple will also almost certainly want some sort of medical history about the genetic parents.)

    3. Review & follow up: The recipient's doctor/clinic reviews the materials, and asks follow up questions as necessary.

    4. Finalize match: The recipient's clinic agrees to accept the embryos, and the couples sign a donation agreement (BTW - $300 seems a little cheap. I think that's because it's an egg donation, which is much more standard and more widespread. Probably an embryo donation agreement will be a little more expensive since it will need to be more customized. Miracles Waiting has several sample agreements if you want to do it yourself). One clause to be sure to think about is, "If all embryos aren't used within X years, does the donor want the remaining embryos returned?"

    5. Shipping: There are several ways to do shipping, and the clinics will generally have their preferred approach. Our clinic's tissue coordinator said she's never seen a problem shipping, but that you need to make sure you take all the appropriate steps, use the appropriate vendors, etc. For example, she advised against using FedEx, even though she's never had a problem with them. This is because FedEx won't knowingly ship embryos (even though it's commonly done).

    From the donor's clinic's perspective, it is not a big deal as long as they have a copy of the executed donation agreement. But you have to be very clear that the recipient's clinic is ready for it, as they need to approve everything and be ready to accept the embryos *before* they get shipped.

    The rest is in the hands of the recipient and her clinic!

  19. angebeer - thanks for that list - my experience to date (although we aren't yet past step 1) is that those are pretty much the steps, with one (big) caveat. I learned that the clinic where I had my IVF and FETs will NOT ship embryos for donation and they will NOT transfer donated embryos on site. As such, we are going to have to ship all of our embryos to a cryobank facility (at an additional cost of ~$500) in order to, as the embryologist at my clinic said, "make them your property". I sort of choked on that and he corrected himself, saying, "Well, of course, they are your property now but our policy doesn't allow you to do whatever you want with them." Oh. Thanks for that clarification!!

    A question I have for our budding discussion - last night I asked my DH if he wanted to start telling some close friends we are considering donating our embryos because I was interested in hearing their reactions and whether they might bring up for us any questions or concerns that we haven't been considering. He said he'd rather not and hopes we can do a thorough analysis of the process on our own and through discussions on this board.

    What do you think? First of all, does anyone feel there are any hidden minefields in this whole process that perhaps preemptive thought and planning could help prevent/minimize? Secondly, should I press DH to be more open about it from the get-go as a way of making sure he's totally comfortable with the idea?

    Thanks!

  20. michalsudol - Congrats on your pregnancy! I'm pregnant with a singleton from donor embryos!

    I thought that I'd pop in in case I can help from the perspective of a recipient. Unfortunately, our first donor embryo experience (through our clinic's anonymous program) ended in m/c at 11 weeks. Our second donor embryo experience (from our dear friends) resulted in my current pregnancy. Both sets of embryos were created from donor egg cycles. We did have a legal contract drawn up (a requirement of our clinic). Our friends donated some of their embryos, but they are willing to donate more if we need them.

    DimaR - DH and I tend to be open about things, yet we have only told a few very close friends and family members thus far. I do think there is the potential for people to misunderstand and judge...mostly out of ignorance. We will certainly be open with our child(ren), but we still haven't completely figured out how "open" we want to be with the public. My biggest concern is making sure that my child(ren) do not face discrimination based on my sharing of information. Remember that once you tell people, you can never take it back. It might be a good idea to talk with a therapist associated with your clinic when considering these issues. We did it when considering our known donation from friends, and she brought up some things we hadn't considered before. I realize that you are on the donating side and not the receiving side, so you have different things to consider. Our friends have not told anyone yet ...they don't want to tell others before we do, and we haven't even gone public with the pregnancy yet. We are actually ok with them telling their friends (we live in the same state but in different cities, so our friends don't really overlap). The few close friends and family members that we have told about donor embryos don't know the source yet....they currently assume that I got pg with the same anonymous batch that I used previously. I think we will be more open as time moves on...it is certainly a process, and we're trying to put a lot of thought into each step.

    I want to tell all of you that the act of donating your embryos is perhaps the most precious gift you could ever give. It is not for everyone, and it is not a decision that should be made if you are not comfortable with it. That said, my heart is filled with gratitude toward those who have donated to me and to others. The difference you make in others' lives is beyond measure!
    Christine
    10w

  21. Thanks Christine and Congratulations!!!

    I think it is important to remember that what is told cannot be untold so to be circumspect about it.

    I've been doing a lot of reading (RESOLVE has some good resources and checklists to help those considering donating and receiving) and quite frequently, getting some counseling beforehand is strongly recommended, for both parties.

    We\'re getting close to a match and getting really excited about it, and DH and I had a good heart-to-heart about it last night so I think we are thinking it through but some professional guidance definitely will not hurt!

  22. I too have been considering joining MW, I have considered other "adoption" sites but it almost feels like they are "brokering" instead of "placing" and that does still bother me at my very core. I do have 2 older children from my previous marriage and have carried my pregnancies successfully, I have a wonderful home and have jumped through all the hoops when we tried to do foster adopt (a night mare all of it's very own!) I am known as the moms mom around the neighborhood and frequently all my son's friends are over here! At least I KNOW what they are doing! Since I am a nurse, I usually am the one patching all of them up too (gotta love skateboards!) and trying to teach them safety!!! My husband is usually the driver when everyone needs to go somewhere. Sometimes I feel like the neighborhood considers us their second parents!!!

    DimaR: I grew up in Washington, DC, my dad still lives there and we were acquainted with most of the "elite" in town. I understand your dilemna. For what it is worth, I would just tell a few people close to you that you know do not have an interest in spreading it any further. DC may seem big, but when mouths start, it is very small!!! There is a crowd there that is very big in stem cells and they will argue it with you to the death and make you feel horrible in the process. They are well meaning, but they have their own agenda. I commend you for donating your embryos so that they have their created chance at life among us mortals, you are an angel!

  23. This is a great thread. Agreeing wholeheartedly with everyone saying what an incredible gift it is to donate embryos.

    I am having my donor embryo transfer this coming Friday. It is a directed, open embryo donation. I totally agree with tamborrino about the "embryo adoption" agencies. I find them very disturbing and often have a religious/political agenda. My donor found me through my blog. PM me if you'd like my blog URL. I'm also happy to answer any questions I can.

    My donor and I have not yet met face to face, but we both feel SOOOOO good about what we are doing.

  24. Best of luck olgagiannak! Donor embies are wonderful!!!
    Christine
    13w1d

  25. Boy, I'm still trying to donate our embryos but have hit an incredible wall.

    First of all, my clinic (GWU here in DC) wants nothing to do with donation and will not ship the embryos anywhere if not in my name. They suggested shipping to a cryobank and going from there. Okay, fine, but every cryobank I deal with either will not accept the embryos without donor eligibility - Fairfax Cryobank (which my clinic will not facilitate our getting, i.e. extra tests on the both of us) or they will not allow us to determine where the embryos go (both Reprotech and Fairfax Cryobank)!!!

    Now, one of them - Reprotech - would accept the embryos and do the paperwork, testing, for eligibility but will only allow all of them - 18 total, split among 6 vials - to go to one recipient. I asked why, and they said, "Well, who will make the decision as to who gets which embryos?" I said, "Um, well, WE WILL, who else??" She said that they don't want to have any role in that. I said, "Well, what if the one family doesn't use all 18 embryos, then what?" She said, well, if we still have some here, we will pass them on to someone else or the other family can choose to. OH, OKAY! So I guess YOU or someone else will, in the end, make the decision who gets which embryos!!

    One place, NECD, down in Tennessee, has tentatively agreed to work with us but they pretty much have the same policy in place (if the first recipient doesn't use all the embryos, NECD gains control over them and can pass them on to other recipients) plus the recipients have to travel to TN for the transfer and it would cost upwards of $6000 for recipients! I haven't run them to ground yet because I am nervous that their policy would, in the end, supersede any individual arrangements.

    We matched with one family through Miracles Waiting who is in CA and their clinic, just a normal clinic, might accept me as a "patient", allow our embryos to be shipped there, and then allow us to donate them as we are ready, but that is still not confirmed.

    And everyone I deal with seems to think I am asking for the world. What we want to do is hold onto two vials for maybe 1-2 more years, just in case (I am currently pregnant with our second child, where we plan to stop) and donate the other four vials to families however it works out with our individual agreements (e.g.., the CA family just wants one more child so probably couldn't use all embryos anyway and if we match now with one family who subsequently wants more children, we would save the embryos we hold onto for them down the line, or in contractual terms, give them the right of first refusal).

    What we will NEVER accept is doing this anonymously and/or not knowing whether our children have biological siblings and who they are or let someone else make the decision where the embryos should go.

    So, in turn, a lot of people we've dealt with on this journey have advised us to wait until we are sure we are done with our family but that still doesn't get to the heart of the problem, which is that I am not willing to just hand over all 18 to one recipient or middleman and relinquish rights to them.

    Am I totally missing something? It kills me that we cannot gain control over these embryos and pass them along in the manner most comfortable and transparent to us.

    Anyone have any advice? BTW, we have no health issues or any other reason why these wouldn't be eligible. Heck, we haven't even gotten that far!

    Thanks!

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