Street

FAQs

 
How are embryos received or donated?
Embryo donation is legal in Australia and is supported by a number of fertility clinics. The processes surrounding donating or receiving unused embryos vary widely between clinics and are subject to the legislation in each state. We suggest you see a fertility counsellor, and seek medical and legal advice specific to your situation.
 
Receiving embryos
Clinics with embryo donation programs often have a waiting list or pool for people seeking embryo donors. Other things to keep in mind include:
  • as embryo donation is not yet very common, it can be a long wait before being matched with a suitable donor 
  • those on waiting lists may need to renew their interest periodically to remain eligible
  • there may be eligibility criteria for the waiting list such as upper age limits.

IVF Australia offers an online community for those considering embryo donation, which aims to 'facilitate connections between potential donors and recipients in a secure, private space'. There is counselling and an appointment with a fertility specialist first. See http://donation.ivf.com.au

 
Alternatively, individuals and couples may find a donor independently. This may be someone known to them, or they may find someone through websites or classifieds, such as:
  • the 'Fertility Procedures' section of the classifieds in free parenting magazines such as Sydney's Child
  • the Classifieds secion of this website
 
Donating embryos
When a patient has unused embryos at the end of successful fertility treatment, they may choose to donate their embryos. There are two main ways to donate:
  • donation through an embryo donation program - i.e. a clinic matches donors and recipients. Usually there isn't contact between donors and recipients. Clinics may place restrictions on embryos received for donation, eg embryo quality, family history, health of the donor. Clinics may also not accept single embryos for donation. IVF Australia offers an online community for those considering embryo donation, which aims to 'facilitate connections between potential donors and recipients in a secure, private space'. There is counselling and an appointment with a fertility specialist first. See http://donation.ivf.com.au
  • finding own recipient. This may be someone known to them, or they may find someone through websites or classifieds, such as:
    • the 'Fertility Procedures' section of the classifieds in free parenting magazines such as Sydney's Child
    • the Classifieds secion of this website
    The embryos may need to be transported to the recipient's clinic.
Donors need to agree to the release of identifying information about themselves if any child born of their donation requests this (once they reach 18 years).
 
Is embryo donation legal?
Embryo donation is legal in Australia. For more info see our state-specific information. Other sites may also be helpful such as Health Law Central

Is it possible to donate a single embryo?

Yes. Some clinics have a policy that you can only donate two or more embryos, but other clinics will facilitate a donation of a single embryo. 

 
Is embryo donation expensive?
For donors: there are usually no costs for donation of embryos as recipients cover the expenses. 
 
For recipients: all expenses from the embryo donation process are usually paid for by the recipients. This may include counselling and medical appointments for both parties, as well as the normal costs of fertility treatment.
 
Can donors be paid for embryo donation?
No. In Australia it is not legal to exchange money for body parts including organs, sperm, eggs and embryos. However, all expenses incurred through the donation process are usually paid for by the recipients. 
 
Do all clinics support embryo donation?
Not all clinics support embryo donation, but if your embryos are stored at such a clinic, it is usually possible to move embryos to a clinic that does support embryo donation. 
 
Do I have a say in who I donate my surplus embryos to? 
Yes. If preferred, an embryo donor is able to decide who they would like to donate their embryos to. Counselling enables further discussion of these preferences. 
 
As an embryo donor, am I able to know the outcome of the donation or meet the children born of my donation? 
The embryo donor’s preferences to know the outcome of the donation or to meet any children born of the donation will be discussed during the counselling process. 
 
There are differences from State to State about donors having a right to know about outcomes of their donation. These can depend on state legislation and the existence of state donor registers. It also depends on the year of birth of the donor conceived child. For more info, see the NSW Health Central Register website, the VARTA website if you're in Victoria, the Voluntary Register website if you're in WA. In South Australia, changes are underway and there should be a donor register soon. Other States have no donor register.
 
There have been some recent guidelines put out by the organisation that gives clinics their accreditation (RTAC) which recommended that clinics get recipients to sign an agreement that they will have a pregnancy test at the conclusion of their donor treatment, in order to avoid situations where recipients might claim that they are not pregnant from a cycle, when they actually are.
 
We are regularly advocating for the existence of a national donor register, which covers all donations (sperm, egg and embryo), in order that all donor conceived children and donors have equality of access to information about their donors. This information is vital to the wellbeing of people conceived through donation, as well as providing them with important medical/genetic information. A national database was recommended by a Federal government committee (the Australian Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee) in 2011.  
 
What if I donate embryos and then change my mind?
NHMRC guidelines state that an embryo donor is able to change their mind about their donation at any time until the time of the embryo transfer. Some clinics have a cooling-off period following the signing of consent forms. After this point, if the donor has a change of mind, it is expected that further counselling of donor and recipient would be recommended. Once the embryo transfer has occurred, the embryo is irretrievably the property of the embryo recipient. 
 
If I have a child as the result of an embryo donation, who will the child’s parents be on the birth certificate? 
In Australia, the woman who gives birth to a child is the legal mother of the child. This remains the case for the child born as the result of an embryo donation, even though the child and mother will not be genetically related. Please contact your State's Births Deaths and Marriages office for information on birth certificates. In some states, there is an Addendum on the birth certificate once a donor conceived child is 18, which informs them there is more information about their birth available if they contact the Births Deaths and Marriages department.
 
How do I tell my child they are born as a result of embryo donation?
Available evidence suggests that telling a child about their origins is best practice. Children should ideally know about this very early on. Some research suggests that children should be told when they are 5 years old, and by 10 years old at the very latest. If they are not told till they are a teenager or an adult, it is most likely to be damaging to them emotionally, relationally and psychologically, so it is far better to tell them early.
 
The 2017 NHMRC Guidelines for Australian clinics place alot of emphasis on the importance of early disclosure. The 'implications counselling' that recipients and donors have to have covers the complex nature of the issues involved. These issues include:
'• the potential long-term psychosocial implications for each individual and each family involved, including the person who would be born and any other child within the family unit(s) who may be affected by that birth
• the potential significance of the biological connection, the right of persons born to know the details of their genetic origins, and the benefits of early disclosure
• the potential long-term psychological implications for a person born from an embryo that has undergone multiple reallocations (see paragraph 6.1.3)
• the possibility that persons born may learn about their genetic origins from other sources (for example from family members or pathology testing) and may independently access information about their conception' [Source: NHMRC Guidelines 2017)
 
There are helpful resources to support you as you talk with your child about their origins. Counselling may also be helpful in order to talk through how to raise this issue with your child.
 
Can I choose to store my embryos indefinitely? 
There are statutory time limits on how long embryos can be kept in storage in NSW, VIC, WA and SA. In other states and territories, clinics are required to ensure that patients to only store embryos for five years, with the option of extending for five additional years only.
 
I have unused embryos that were created using donor sperm and/or eggs. Can I donate these?
Yes you can. There are important issues to think about, including the potential long-term psychological impact on the person born from such a donation. Discuss this with your clinic or email us. 
 
If I receive donor embryos, can I eventually donate them on to another couple if I don’t want or need them all?
Yes you can. The NHMRC Guidelines for Australian fertility clinics allow for this. There are important issues to think about, including 'the potential long-term psychological implications on a person born from an embryo that has undergone multiple reallocations' (see NHMRC Guidelines, including section 4.4.1 and 5.11, for more information). Discuss this with your clinic or email us to discuss options.
 
 
 
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