Embryo donation is a reproductive alternative that is legally approved in Greece. Thanks to this technique, couples can use the spare embryos remaining from the IVF cycle of another couple who has decided to donate them.
The main indications for this treatment are:
- Fertility problems in both partners related to poor gamete quality (i.e. eggs and sperms).
- Individuals without a partner from the opposite sex, and presenting poor quality in their own gametes.
- Previous IVF failure using own gametes (fertilization or implantation failure, miscarriage…).
- Genetic disease or abnormality likely to be inherited
- Recurrent implantation failure (RIF)
- Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL)
Fate of spare embryos created for IVF
When a couple undergoes an in vitro fertilization cycle, the woman’s egg production function is pharmacologically stimulated with the purpose of getting a great amount of high-quality eggs. By doing this, we increase the chances of creating viable embryos, capable of implanting and leading to a successful pregnancy.
The Greek Law establishes a series of limits regarding how many embryos to transfer, which depend on the patient’s age, and whether own or donor eggs are used:
- Under age 35, own eggs: one or two embryo transfer.
- From 35 to 39, own eggs: up to two embryos in the first and second cycles, and up to three embryos in the following cycles.
- Age 40, own eggs: up to three embryos can be transferred.
- Over age 40, own eggs: a maximum of four embryos can be transferred.
- Donor eggs, regardless of age: a maximum of two embryos.
If they are high-quality embryos and pregnancy is achieved in the first cycle, the couple may have surplus frozen embryos by the end of their treatment. In these cases, some biological parents prefer to store the frozen embryos, and then use them in prospective cycles, while others decide to donate them for reproductive purposes.
Should you choose embryo donation, you should keep in mind it is an altruistic act that may become the definitive solution for many individuals and couples who are unable to have a child.
Embryos created for previous IVF cycles
Those who find themselves in one of the above mentioned situations, which is to say, those who are unable to achieve pregnancy with their own eggs and sperms, have the chance to use the spare embryos of another couple.
These are the embryos that were unused during a previous IVF procedure. This means they were created using the reproductive cells of another couple who decided to donate them. Nonetheless, they could have been created using donor eggs and donor sperm, which would mean the couple who donates the embryos used donor eggs, donor sperm, or both.
Depending on gamete quality, the quality of the embryos would be high to a higher or lesser extent. Besides, the embryo freezing process should be taken into account as well.
Today’s most common freezing method is vitrification, a cutting-edge technique that allows for the preservation of embryos during a certain time interval, without it implying a high decrease in embryo quality.
The embryo survival rate after vitrification, along with the recipient’s endometrial preparation, are two key factors when it comes to foreseeing the treatment’s chances of success.