Not long after IVF came into common clinical practice, clinicians discovered a way to maintain (cryopreserve) embryos in frozen storage and thaw them once again for implantation later, thus, in some cases sparing the woman a second egg harvesting procedure,.
At about the same time, clinicians reasoned that more couples could be helped toward parenthood by substituting donor sperm for men who have no viable sperm, or donor eggs for women who have no viable oocytes – or both. Thus what was called gamete and embryo donation, came into being. A careful reading of the 1983 clinical report often cited as the first instance of embryo donation reveals that the donated embryo was actually created for the recipient at the same time that four embryos were made for the donor couple’s own use. The menstrual cycles of the donor and recipient women were synchronized using medications, and the transfers occurred on the same day. None of these embryos had been cryopreserved.
Soon thereafter, reports were published documenting successful pregnancies and births from cryopreserved donor embryos. Again, however, these were embryos made from donor gametes specifically for the recipients.
No one knows for sure when the first true embryo adoption occurred. The term was used as early as the mid-1980s, in the legal literature. Devroey et al., Dr. Maria Bustillo in Florida, and Dr. Howard Jones in Virginia have reported embryo transfers occurring between 1986 and 1990 that clearly represented adoption of remaining embryos.
Prior to this, thousands of women who were infertile had regarded adoption as the only available path to parenthood. These scientific advances set the stage to allow open and candid discussion of embryo donation and transfer as a solution to infertility. In some ways, it is similar to other donations such as blood and major organ donations. Some see the embryo as "tissue", others see it as a "gift of a potential life", while still others believe that a new human life begins at the time of fertilization. The third group sees embryo donation as little different from traditional adoption, except that the recipient woman has the experience of pregnancy and childbirth, and that no court action is required to establish legal parentage for the recipient.
The matter gained another political dimension in the United States when Congress and the Bush administration gave $1 million to promote embryo adoption.
Read more about this topic: Embryo Donation
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