Embryo Donation: It’s a Multi-Step Process

Embryo Donation: It’s a Multi-Step Process

Embryo donation, whether anonymous or between parties who know each other or were otherwise matched and might consider becoming known is a multi-step process. It is a long process with a lot of details and matters to attend to, matters that need to be addressed before the to-be-donated embryos even get to the clinic where the frozen embryo transfer is to take place. I prefer to be engaged as soon as the donor and the recipients come together so that I can assist with the below steps and offer support and guidance:

1. Clinic Clearance: The first step is to determine at which clinic the prospective recipients will be able to do the frozen embryo transfer. I recommend that the recipients call their clinic to inquire as to whether or not they offer donor embryos services and, further, will that clinic accept cryo’d embryos created at another facility? If applicable, recipients also need to determine if that clinic will accept donation of cryo’d embryos created with donor egg. Before any next steps, we first have to identify a clinic for the cycle. On several embryo donation cases, I have assisted the parties in “clinic shopping” as not all IVF clinics work with donated embryos.

2. Medical Clearance: Is the recipient mom (or gestational carrier) cleared for frozen embryo transfer with donated embryos? If recipient mom is of of advanced age (usually over the age of 45) she likely will have to seek clearance from her primary care physician and/or other medical clearance that might include an EKG, a stress test, a mammogram or whatever else the clinic deems necessary in order for the recipient mom to be considered appropriate for a donor embryo cycle. If recipient mom is less than 45 and otherwise healthy, she may be presumed medically cleared. Still, both donors and recipients should confirm that the clinic intended to perform the embryo donation will accept the recipient mom as their patient. Depending on how current the recipient mom’s medical records are, getting medical clearance could take months.

3. Embryological Clearance: Has the clinic intended to perform the embryo donation reviewed the embryology report of the embryos being considered and do the embryos meet that clinic’s criteria for donation? Every clinic has their own criteria for clearing embryos for embryo donation. If there is a cost related to getting records from donor’s clinic to recipients, cost is usually picked up by the prospective recipients.

4. Psychological Clearance: I don’t advise that the parties proceed to psych clearance until clinic, medical and embryological clearance is in place, especially if the parties are known or to become known. Essentially we first answer: is the donation feasible, before we have the parties (separately, if anonymous, perhaps together if known – depends on clinic policy) meet with a mental health professional. If after independent psych clearance is issued (yes, the recipients pay for the donors’ visit) then, if parties are known or intending to become known, the clinic may request a joint psych visit. Again, policies at each clinic vary regarding the process by which parties considering embryo donation (both donor and recipients) are psych cleared so the recipients should inquire with the clinic as to what will be required for that clearance. All costs related to obtaining psychological clearance are borne by the recipients, however, in my experience, if the donors are not local to the recipients’ clinic, they likely will be able to meet with a local mental health professional and can avoid travel.

5. Legal Clearance: While the above clearances are being attended to, the attorney representing the embryo donors should inquire as to whether or not the embryo donation involves embryos created with donor egg. If this is the case, the egg donation agreement (if there was one) will be reviewed to determine if the egg donor must first issue her consent for the embryo donation. Some IVF clinics as well as storage facilities may also require (regardless of what the egg donation agreement reads) that the egg donor be notified and issue consent for the embryo donation. Reaching the egg donor and obtaining her consent may take some time, be prepared for this and allow for a delay in the embryo donation as this and all other clearances are pending. Once we have all the clearances in place, the recipients’ attorney will begin to draft the embryo donation agreement. The recipients pay for both the donors’ attorney as well as their own legal counsel.

The attorney that drafted the embryo donation will issue to the IVF clinic a Letter of Legal Clearance and the donors can then proceed with having the embryos transported to the IVF clinic.

In a next blog, I will discuss the particulars of an Embryo Donation Agreement, that contract the donors and the recipients enter into prior to the embryos being transferred to the control and ownership of the recipients.

Originally prepared By: Amy Demma, Esq for Parents Via Egg Donation.  

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