Embryo Donation (also sometimes called embryo adoption*) is the donation of unused embryos by the people who created them to another person or couple for family building. Embryo donation is becoming an increasingly popular way to create a family, but how successful is embryo donation and how much does it cost. And, oh yeah, how do you find donated embryos to use??

In vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles often result in more embryos than a patient wants to use. These unused embryos are usually frozen for the couple to attempt another pregnancy, but some may remain after the couple (or single) completes their family. One option for what to do with remaining unused frozen embryos is to donate them to another infertility patient for a frozen embryo IVF cycle. Over 1000 embryos are donated and transferred each year.

Success Rate of Embryo Donation

The question most people who have been struggling for years with unsuccessful fertility treatment ask is will they be able to get pregnant with donated embryos? The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) began in 2015 to break out embryo donation from other frozen embryo transfers, so we are now able to give success rates for embryo donation.

36.7 % of embryo donation transfers (or embryo adoptions, as it is sometimes called) resulted in a live birth in the last year data was reported (2016).

The percentage of frozen embryo transfers resulting in a live birth depends upon the age of the donating women or egg donor at the time the embryos were created. The younger the egg, the higher the success rate. Keep in mind that recipients will know the age of the donor/egg before they decide to accept the embryos. Many donated embryos were created using donor eggs and donors are usually in their 20s.

Cost of Donating Embryos for the Donating Couple

Donating couples or singles do not pay anything associated with the donation, but also do not receive payment for their embryos. It is not possible to recoup the cost of IVF by donating your leftover embryos.

Embryo donation does not cost the donating family anything. Cost to the receiving family varies depending on what services both families want.

Cost of Embryo Donation for the Recipient

Cost varies on a number of factors, but primarily on what services the donating family and the receiving family want and whether travel is required.

  • Infertility clinics: $4,000-$10,000. Some clinics charge only their standard rate for a frozen embryo transfer, while others charge more depending on services provided. You must add in the cost of a an attorney that specializes in Assisted Reproductive Technology.
  • Specialized embryo donation centers: $9,000-$16,000 (Higher fees usually include some degree of openness, and travel. May not include legal fees.)
  • Adoption agencies: $6,000-$16,000. (Generally includes services such as screening of recipient families and counseling/education. Usually includes legal fees.)

Where to Find Embryos that Have Been Donated

We received this question often enough that we did a Creating a Family radio show to answer it. You can listen on your phone, tablet, iPod, or computer.




Creating a Family has many resources for Embryo Donation/Embryo Adoption. A few we think you will find particularly helpful are:

* The American Society of Reproductive Medicine has stated that the preferred term is “embryo donation”. Some adoption agencies that have programs, however, use the term “embryo adoption” because they think it better reflects the model that they use and the services they provide.

Originally published in 2015; Updated in 2018.
Image credit: frankieleon