How to Donate Embryos

Deciding whether or not to donate your embryos is no doubt difficult and complex, with many factors affecting whether it is the right choice for you to make. Ultimately you may choose to donate your embryos having gone through fertility treatment yourself and understanding how trying it can be, particularly when a couple isn’t having any luck getting pregnant. For these couples as well as potential single mums and same sex couples, your embryo donation can be a life changing gift.

Can I donate my embryos?

You can donate embryos if you are either a female donor between 18 and 35 years of age or a male donor aged between 18 and 45, more specifically you will need to have been within these age ranges when the embryo was created. You shouldn’t have any history of communicable disease as these can be passed on to the child and recipient, or have any history of inherited diseases. You need to have at least 2 embryos in storage to qualify as a donor, and if you meet the criteria discussed here then you are perfectly eligible for an embryo donation. Typically your physical features will be noted down when you donate, and your embryos will be selected for a couple who are physically similar to you, although a shortage of donor embryos means that this not always the case.

What does embryo donation involve?

Should you decide to donate your frozen embryos, the donors of both sperm and the egg must give their consent. The clinic which you are dealing with will have a counsellor available who will arrange an initial appointment during which the implications of your donation will be discussed

Both donors will be tested for diseases which could be passed on to the baby, such as cystic fibrosis and syphilis. The doctor will also check your blood type. It is important that if there is anything to report that may put the baby at risk that you do so as you are legally obliged to, if the baby is born with a condition and it is proven that you were aware of the risk, then the surrogate parents have the right to take legal action.

You may also wish to donate your embryos to research (which will be fully licensed by the HFEA) or to training (they will be used by trainee embryologists to practise embryo freezing.) Another benefit of donating embryos is that some clinics will offer you a reduced fee in your treatment should you donate, although not all clinics do this so it might be worth checking with your clinician.

If you donate your eggs you will be treated like any other donor and will be put on the HFEA donors list. This means that when the child reaches the age of 18 they have the right to find out more information about their donor.

Embryo donation is a big choice and one you should take your time in making, but the good that can come of donating spare embryos is amazing as it can help couples in dire need of it.

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