Donor embryo treatment is quite simple technically because the embryo already exists. But socially there is a lot more complexity to it than other donor treatments.

What is embryo donation?

Some people have embryos from IVF treatment that are frozen to give them another opportunity to become pregnant later. Most people use all their frozen embryos, but some complete their family before all their frozen embryos have been used, and a few decide to stop treatment before using all their frozen embryos. Embryo donation is when one couple decides to donate their remaining embryos to another couple or woman. If it is successful, there are usually full siblings (brothers or sisters) in two families – the recipients’ family and the donors’ family.

Key ethical issues

Most of the work associated with embryo donation involves preparation of donors and recipients for the key ethical issues associated with this treatment. They are:

  • Minimising any potential harm to children involved.
  • Children having information about their genetic origins and their siblings
  • Ensuring everyone is fully informed about the psychological, social and ethical issues before they go ahead, so there are no regrets or surprises later.
Regulation of embryo donation 

Embryo donation requires an application to ECART. ECART has set rules around who can consider embryo donation and who can receive the donated embryo. Because of the ethical issues, embryo donation has some extra requirements beyond what is needed for sperm or egg donation. For instance;

  • The donors and recipients have joint counselling where they meet each other, and children may need to be included in counselling in a way that is appropriate to their age.
  • Recipients need to have a police check in the same way as before adoption. The donors will be able to see the police check, although the recipients’ names will be removed.
  • Like other types of donation, there is also screening for sexually transmissible diseases, and disclosure about the donors’ health and the health of their children.
Good to know:
  • We have outlined the steps below.
  • If you are thinking about donating embryos, the donor needs to pay for the initial counselling consultation. After that, the costs are covered by the potential recipient.
To find out more please read the documents on the helpful links below or contact your local clinic. 

Support every step of the way

  • Counselling and support

    Counselling and support

    We have counsellors available to help you work through your options with embryo donation.