Objectives: To review the choices of couples relinquishing frozen embryos and the outcomes of embryo donation at a major in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) clinic.
Design and setting: Retrospective audit of 11.5 years of data (1991-2002) from the Monash University IVF clinic, Melbourne.
Participants: Couples who make decisions regarding the fate of their frozen embryos, and recipient couples taking part in embryo adoption.
Main outcome measures: Couples' choices with regard to the fate of their frozen embryos, and the outcome of donated embryo treatment cycles.
Results: Of 1246 couples relinquishing frozen embryos, 1116 (89.5%) opted to discard rather than donate their embryos. Sixty-six per cent of donated embryos survived thawing. From donated-embryo transfer to 50 women in 92 cycles, a 17.4% pregnancy rate per transfer cycle was achieved, and 10 women delivered 11 healthy babies at term. At the time of our audit there were 98 couples on the waiting list to adopt embryos.
Conclusions: It is worth considering how couples can be encouraged to donate rather than discard their surplus frozen embryos. An educational program on relevant legal, social and clinical issues may facilitate this.