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What is embryo donation?

Embryo donation is a procedure by which an embryo formed by sperm and eggs during an in vitro fertilisation procedure (IVF) is offered to another woman or a couple seeking a child. The embryo is implanted in the uterus of the woman. The woman who gives birth to the child is considered the birth mother, and if present, her partner is the birth father.  They have  legal rights over the child, although neither have contributed to the genetic makeup of the child. The process is like an adoption that happens before birth.  

Who needs donated embryos?

When a couple is unable to have a child as neither can contribute healthy eggs and sperm towards an assisted reproductive procedure such as IVF, they may opt for a donated embryo rather than seeking out a separate egg donor and sperm donor. 

Where do donated embryos come from?

When a couple opts for IVF, several embryos may be formed and one or more are implanted. The remaining healthy embryos may be frozen to allow for a chance of future pregnancies.  However, some couples no longer need or wish to keep storing their frozen embryos, and these frozen embryos may be contributed to scientific research or donated to another couple seeking a child.   

How is a woman prepared to receive a donated embryo?

Hormones are administered to thicken the uterine lining and allow the donated embryo to implant. The embryo is then thawed and implanted in your uterus. You will continue to receive hormone therapy until the embryo starts to grow and your body takes over. You will also be counselled on the use of vitamins and supplements.

What are the chances of success?

Donated embryos often come from a batch of embryos which have previously resulted in successful pregnancies. This ensures a good chance of success.

What are the legal issues?

The genetic contributors (egg and sperm donors) do not have any rights over the child and cannot seek out the child or the birth parents. They do not have any responsibilities towards the child. In most states in Australia, a record is kept so that the child may find out who his/her genetic parents are after the age of 18.

Medical and scientific information provided and endorsed by the Australian and New Zealand Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (ANZSREI) might not be relevant to a particular person’s circumstances and should always be discussed with that person’s own healthcare provider. Patient Information Sheets may contain copyright or otherwise protected material. Reproduction of Information Sheets by ANZSREI Members for clinical practice is permissible. Any other use of this information (hardcopy and electronic versions) must be agreed to and approved by the ANZSREI.

Disclaimer: All information presented on this page is intended for informational purposes only and not for rendering medical advice. The information contained herein is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


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