The National Embryo Donation Center of Knoxville, Tennessee, recently celebrated the birth of the 800th child born from a donated embryo. The center has been encouraging people donating their leftover IVF embryos for 16 years.

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is definitely a positive scientific development that allowed many people struggling with infertility to conceive children. However, many bioethical problems arise when thinking of what to do with the embryos that were left out and do not need to be implanted. Some people prefer to freeze them for future use, others ask clinic to destroy this biomaterial and the remaining choose to donated their embryos to other infertile couples.

Many families who received such embryos were out of their options to creating a family and some lives were literally saved. These types of donations are sometimes called “snowflake adoptions.” The specialists believe that their work will make American authorities to legally recognize the human dignity of children through IVF.

It is estimated that there are at least 700,000, and possibly more than 1 million, “surplus” embryos currently frozen in the United States. Nowadays tens of thousands embryos are stuck in limbo in some fertility clinics as they cannot reach intended parents to get a payment for another storage cycle. In simple words, those embryos were outright abandoned by people who stopped paying storage fees and cannot be found.

Some clinics search social media and hire investigators to find owners who abandoned the embryos. Other clinics prefer to regulate this at the stage of signing the contract, they include a condition that in case abandonment is suspected, the clinic will have the rights to deal with embryos at their own will, either to destroy them or donate to another couple. 


Photo by Fertility Center of Dallas
Based on materials by Live Action

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