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Having enough frozen specimens to complete your IVF cycles is a positive thing. Not all patients are able to produce or purchase the specimens they need to complete their cycle as they hoped for. However, when you are left with additional specimens after you have finished doing your treatments, it can lead to confusing and difficult decisions. This can be both emotionally and financially difficult. We hear from patients frequently that they have frozen specimens they don’t want to keep, but are not sure what to do with. This blog will take a closer look at current options available for each type of specimen.

To give some background information, RGI offers short and long term storage for embryos, oocytes, and semen. We have an extensive cryobank which dates back over 30 years. Having performed the embryology for many IVF centers during this time, we have gained experience and expertise in safely maintaining and securely storing these precious samples.

If keeping your sample frozen long-term at RGI, or at other storage facilities, is not right for your situation, below is a good resource on where to begin looking into other possibilities for these specimens.

For embryos, there are a few possibilities to choose from. You can:

  1. Thaw and dispose of your remaining embryos in our lab. They will no longer be viable and no other couple will use them for a pregnancy attempt.
  2. Donate your embryos to RGI for in-house training, research, and quality control. These embryos will not be given to another couple, nor will they result in a pregnancy. We can accept embryos from any center, not just ones created or currently stored at RGI.
  3. Donate to another couple. Although RGI does not offer this service, there are many places that do. You can start by researching:
  4. Your IVF center – Your Physician’s office may have an in-house program for donation to other couples.   
  5. NEDC – The National Embryo Donation Center is a well-known source for this type of service.
  6. Snowflake – This is a division of Nightlight Adoption which focuses on embryo donation.
  7. Others – There are many other agencies out there that specialize in these donations. Either speak to your IVF Dr. for their recommendation or go online to see what company is best aligned with your desires for the future of your specimen.
  8. Known Donation – Rather than in the above options where the donation is unknown, you may have a family or friend who you would like to give these specimens to. This cases require a lawyer who specializes in ART (assisted reproductive technology) and can properly guide you through this sensitive process.
  9. Pick up to your care – In this case, patients choose to pick up their specimens in an envelope from our lab. Though the specimens are no longer viable, having a sense of closure is the main reason patients choose this option. Over the years, we have been told that the embryos have been buried next to a loved one or simply discarded at home after the patient is able to say their goodbyes.

For oocytes, the options are similar to embryos though currently, the only place RGI is aware of that accepts oocyte donation, is Cryos International. They accept oocytes whether it is your own eggs or they came from a donor.

For semen (ejaculate or TESA), your options are either to thaw and discard in our lab or to pick up to your care in a non-viable state. RGI is not currently aware of an option for donating your already frozen semen.

Some important things to remember:

  1. If you went through the IVF cycle that resulted in these remaining specimens with a partner, you both must sign and agree to what you want done with the samples. You must both agree to the same decision. Often I hear one partner wanting to keep the specimen while the other wants to thaw and discard it. Ultimately, the specimen will remain frozen until both partners agree.
  2. Don’t act too quickly. Make sure you are content and comfortable with your decision as usually this decision is permanent. We suggest you take some time to weigh your options, ask questions, and decide if this is right for you before signing the consent with your decision.

If you have questions about donation to another couple, please reach out to the companies above for their specific requirements.

If you have questions about any other details listed in this blog, feel free to reach out to RGI to help guide you through your options so you can make a decision you are comfortable with.  You can call our Practice Manager, Krissy at 773-494-4168 or email her at krissy@rgiscience.com and she can walk you through the questions you may have.

We wish you the best of luck in your reproductive journey.

**Please note, RGI does not promote any of the companies named above. These are agencies that we have worked with when former patients have requested us to. At the time, those donations went without complication therefore they earned mention.***

By: Krissy M, Practice Manager