What Happens to Your Leftover Embryos After Fertility Treatment?

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Many people who go through the process of freezing their eggs for the purpose of IVF find that after they successfully have a child or a few children, they do not know what to do with the leftover embryos. When you’re spending all that time and effort in just getting pregnant, you don’t think about what happens if there are extra embryos. But when you’re faced with the decision, you might begin asking yourself questions like, when does life begin?

Embryo Storage in Victoria, Australia

In the state of Victoria, The Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act of 2008 regulates how long gametes and embryos can be stored for treatment. This act also outlines circumstances in which storage periods may be extended.

Embryos can be stored for five years. Further storage time would require consent by your fertility clinic, and then you can keep stored them for another 10 years. If you want to keep them for longer than that, you’ll have to apply to the Patient Review Panel, and they will either approve or deny your request for a storage time extension.

If consent has been given in written form for removal by both parents who formed the embryo, the fertility clinic can remove the embryo from storage. They also have the right to dispose of the embryos if the storage period has ended and you didn’t apply for an extension.

Options for Leftover Embryos

If you have leftover embryos that you no longer want to store you have a few options. You could allow the clinic to dispose of the embryos or you could donate the embryos to infertile couples.

Donating to Infertile Couples

You may be able to donate to a couple that you already know, or perhaps a family chosen by the fertility clinic. The process might be as simple as giving the clinic your family and medical history, hiring an attorney, and working your way through the legal issues. However, donating your embryos can be a tricky process emotionally, and it could potentially be legally complex. Both the couple accepting the donation and those giving the donation should receive counselling about the legal, social and emotional implications of this act.

Many couples feel uncomfortable giving their embryos to another family because they might feel an emotional connection to a child that they consider to be potentially their own, since they are genetically linked. You might worry about wanting to meet this child and forming a relationship with them or if the parents who will be raising him or her are fit in your minds.

However, if you do decide to donate, and it is successful, your name and your partner’s names will be recorded on the Victorian Donor Register and the person who is born has a right to know your identity once he or she reaches adulthood.

Donate to Medical Research

If you choose to donate your embryos to medical research from the fertility clinic, you have to understand that there is a chance that your embryos will be disposed of in time.

Some of the research that might be done would investigate why some embryos survive and others don’t, ways to improve assisted reproductive outcomes, or other new procedures.

You will have to both consent in writing that the embryos can be used for scientific research, and you will be provided with recorded information about the research study that your embryos will be used for, as well as the opportunity to speak to someone about it.

For further information regarding fertility clinics, IVF in Melbourne and what to do with leftover embryos, get in touch with our specialists.