What is Embryo Donation?
This procedure is similar to egg donation. However, instead of borrowing the egg and using the recipients husband's sperm for fertilization, both the egg and the sperms are derived from donors.
Who can opt for embryo donation?
All the patients who are eligible for egg donation can also be eligible for embryo donation. In egg donation, there are the problems of getting patients to donate their eggs. Furthermore it is a relatively costly procedure, as compared to embryo donation. Embryo donation also yields the highest pregnancy rate-as high as 30-40%. Hence if the couple has no objection in using donor sperm, it is a preferred method of choice!
What is the source of Embryo Donation?
In our program there are many young patients who need IVF / ICSI procedure, but who cannot afford it. These patients produce lot of eggs and hence many embryos.
After taking proper informed consent of these patients, some of the extra embryos are used for the recipients. In return, the costs of the drugs of the younger patient are borne by the recipient. This embryo sharing is beneficial for both the patients.
Alternatively, when we perform IVF, young women often produce many eggs, and therefore, many embryos. The best quality embryos are transferred into the womb. The extra embryos can be frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen at (minus)-196 0C. If the patient gets pregnant and do not want more children, they often agree to donate their embryos to other infertile couples, to help them to start a family.
Of course there is voluntary donation by family, friends or altruistic individuals. However this is rare.
What is the pregnancy rate with embryo donation?
The pregnancy rate in our clinic is 30-40% per cycle. The reason for the high pregnancy rate is two fold. Firstly, these are often excellent quality embryos. Also, since we prepare the Endometrium using hormones, the uterine receptivity to these embryos is usually very good.
How is Embryo Donation performed?
This is similar to egg donation. In patients who are menstruating (having their periods) the hormonal control of the cycle is taken over by starting GnRh Analogue Injection such as Suprefact, Lupride or Nasaral spray starting from 21st day of previous cycle. Once the patient gets her period, Estradiol Valerate tablets( Progynova 2 mg) is started from the 2nd day of period. On the 10th day an ultrasound is done to assess the receptivity of the Endometrium by measuring its thickness.
An Endometrial thickness of more than 9mm is good for pregnancy. Once this is achieved, one can wait to obtain good quality embryos, to place back into the womb. It is important to note that with this regime, one can wait for as many as 35 days after starting Progynova, for an embryo transfer. The procedure is non-surgical, and there is no risk involved.
In case of menopausal woman, who have stopped having periods, cyclical hormones are given for 3-6 months till the time the patient starts having her periods. After that the procedure is the same, starting with Progynova tablets from the second day of period. In these women, there is no need to give GnRh analogues such as Suprefact, as the hormonal control has been naturally shut of.
What about confidentiality of the procedure?
In our clinic, embryo donation is totally anonymous, unless it done by a friend or relative of the recipient. There is no contact between the donating couple and the recipients, who never see each other. There are no records maintained about the origin and the ultimate resting place of the embryos.
How is this procedure different from adopting a child?
Unlike traditional adoption, the couple undergoes a medical rather than a legal procedure to have a baby. For infertile couples, embryo donation offers a great opportunity to be pregnant, to bond with their child prior to birth, and to give birth. In addition, embryo donation may be much more affordable than traditional adoption in countries such as the US. In India younger couples are given preference for adoption. Couples more than 45 years of age have a very poor chance of adopting a baby. Embryo donation also offers couples privacy and secrecy, so that they do not need to worry about societal acceptance of their adopted child. Also in India, certain groups such as Christians and Muslims cannot adopt. Embryo donation is the only solution to these patients.
Isn't this just similar to surrogacy?
In surrogacy, another woman accepts the embryos of a couple and carries the pregnancy for the benefit of the infertile couple. In contrast in embryo donation, the infertile couple carries the embryos of another couple and ultimately delivers the child that they will parent.
Will the child be normal and what will he look like?
The incidence of abnormal child, miscarriage and other mishaps, is the same as that of natural pregnancy.
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The embryos for adoption are normally derived from parents of Indian origin. The children born are generally healthy, with black hair, black eyes, and brown skin-akin to a normal Indian.