After embryo transfer, some couples are lucky enough to have additional embryos of good enough quality to be frozen for possible future use, in the case of a negative pregnancy test, or to try to conceive again following a successful pregnancy and livebirth.
Frozen embryos may remain in storage, usually for up to five years, and every 12 months Midland Fertility contacts patients to remind them of their possible choices, which may include:
- continuation of storage (if the maximum period has not yet been reached)
- attempting to conceive by frozen embryo transfer
- donating the embryos to a research clinic (Midland Fertility does not undertake research)
- removal of the embryos from storage
- donating the embryos to a couple (or single woman) who are unable to conceive using their own eggs and sperm
For more information about any of these options, contact the following:
- the nurses for more information on frozen embryo transfers
- the laboratory for information on continuing storage of embryos, removal from storage or donation of embryos for research
- Donna Rea-Gardner for information on embryo donation
Who may become an embryo donor?
Couples who have at least four embryos in storage but who do not plan to conceive using the embryos may choose to donate them to another couple or single woman, if:
- the woman was under 36 years old when the eggs used to create the embryos were collected
- the embryos are still within their storage period
- both partners consent to screening, to confirm that neither has any sexually transmitted diseases, or HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C
- both partners consent to genetic screening to ensure that neither:
- carries the gene for cystic fibrosis and has normal genetic karyotyping
- has a personal or family history of inherited illness or abnormalities
Midland Fertility is able to advise couples who are willing to donate embryos of other alternatives if they do not meet these criteria.
Midland Fertility advises women who are currently pregnant or who have just given birth, to wait a while before considering donating frozen embryos.
Who receives donor embryos?
Potential recipients of donor embryos include:
- couples who require both donor eggs and donor sperm to conceive
- single women who require donor eggs and donor sperm to conceive
What does donating embryos involve?
In the first instance, any couple interested in possibly donating their frozen embryos should contact Donna Rea-Gardner by email or on telephone number at the top of the screen. After this, should they still want to go ahead with donation, the following will happen:
- the couple will be screened for their CMV status
- a recipient may then be identified from the Midland Fertility donor embryo waiting list
- the donating couple will attend an appointment with a member of the Midland Fertility clinical team:
- to give blood samples for routine infection screening and checking for genetic conditions including cystic fibrosis and karyotype chromosomes
- to discuss and complete consent forms
- to consider any restrictions for the donation, for example, the age, status or home town of the recipient
According to current UK law, donors receive no fee for donating embryos at Midland Fertility.
If it is difficult for the couple to come to Midland Fertility to progress embryo donation, in certain circumstances it is possible for a member of the Midland Fertility clinical team to visit them at home.
In addition to the CMV status, Midland Fertility matches, as closely as possible, the following characteristics of the donors and the recipients:
- skin tone
- eye colour
- hair colour
Midland Fertility tries to account for any preferences or restrictions embryo donors make when matching them with a recipient.
Identity of embryo donors
Both the embryo donors and recipient remain anonymous to each other, although the recipient may receive some non-identifying information about the donors, such as a description of their physical characteristics and personal interests. The embryo donor couple may be told only if any pregnancy results from treatment using their embryos.
How long does treatment take?
Screening a donor couple and matching a recipient usually takes up to eight weeks, although in exceptional circumstances may take longer.
Also, go to the Midland Fertility Patient Treatment Information page and download:
- Counselling Services
- Gametes and Embryos – Research and Training