There are so many people out there who want so desperately to be parents but after years of trying and rounds of expensive IVF, they still have no luck getting pregnant. On the other side of the baby gate are people who've frozen embryos during IVF treatments in hopes of prolonging their chances of becoming parents. Often (thankfully) people are able to get pregnant without using all of their frozen embryos. As weird as it sounds, then the question becomes: "What do we do with the leftovers?"
More and more people are deciding to share their embryos with women who are having trouble conceiving. Like one Oregon couple featured in Time, who had kept their extra embryos frozen for 19 years after having twins through IVF—just in case they one day wanted to expand their family. But once their kids were in college, they decided it was never going to happen, and donated their four remaining embryos to a single woman in Virginia, who is now the proud mama to 9-month-old Liam.
More than 154,000 cycles of IVF were performed in 2011—and the number is likely to be higher for 2013. So it's no surprise that there are currently hundreds of thousands of leftover IVF embryos in storage in the US. Mostly because it's hard for someone to "throw out" their embryos, knowing that it has the chance of becoming a baby—even when they feel they're past their baby-making days. So some of these embryos are frozen for years, meanwhile the couple is paying hundreds of dollars in yearly storage costs. While many decide to keep them indefinitely, others are deciding to throw them away—either because they won't need them, or they can't imagine having anyone else raise their biological children but them.
Obviously, having someone else use your embryos to get pregnant is not for everyone, but the new phenomenon is giving infertile couples a chance at having children, and allowing the mom the experience of childbirth—which she wouldn't have by using a surrogate or adopting. So in the end, there's a happy ending for everyone.
TELL US: What would you do with your leftover embryos: keep them indefinitely, dump them, or donate them?
Image of frozen embryos courtesy of Shutterstock.