How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Affected Embryo Donation
Stimulated in vitro fertilization can lead to as many as 30 eggs produced by some women. Some patients opt to donate these embryos to other women hoping to get pregnant; this allows for about 2,000 embryo adoptions annually — a number that continues to trend up. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected practically every aspect of our lives, and New Jersey adoption attorneys note that current circumstances may have added new wrinkles to the assisted reproduction process as well.
What Is Embryo Donation?
IVF can result in more embryos than a patient requires. Those embryos can be cryopreserved for use at a later time, but there may be no plans to use them at all. In those scenarios, a patient can opt to donate them to other women as opposed to discarding them or contributing them to science. The average success rate of IVF involving donated embryos is 40%, which is slightly higher than standard IVF. People who are suitable candidates to adopt embryos include
• Couples who are both infertile
• Single women who are infertile
• Patients with genetic disorders
• Women who experience recurrent embryo loss
Are Embryos Screened for Disease?
Absolutely. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has established strict guidelines for tissue donation, and those rules encompass eggs, sperm and embryos. Since embryos are initially intended for private use, there can be cases where the FDA testing was not performed comprehensively or in the required time frame. It is legally required that the recipient be informed of this risk. This is in addition to the detailed medical histories that accompany all embryo donations. Although there is no evidence as of this writing that COVID-19 affects embryos, you also have the right to know whether the donated embryos were created prior to, during or after the pandemic.
Is It Permissible to Donate or Receive Embryos During the Pandemic?
Infertility is classified as a disease, which means that treatments are never deemed elective. It is therefore permissible to donate and receive embryos during the pandemic. Doctors will work with their patients on an individual basis to determine if it is recommended for them. While as many as 80% of fertility clinics in the U.S. ceased operations in April and May of 2020, the majority had reopened and welcomed back furloughed workers by mid-June. Most clinics are now moving forward with donations and IVF treatments.
Embryo Donation Is Often a Remote Process
Embryo donation was a remote process long before the pandemic, and this is a big reason why fertility clinics have adapted so quickly and efficiently. Donors and recipients often do not meet, and most agreements are finalized remotely between the clinics, matchmaking services and attorneys.
How Is the COVID-19 Pandemic Affecting Embryo Donation?
This is not to say the coronavirus has not created problems for the embryo donation process. Many clinics are operating with smaller staffs, which can result in longer wait periods when acquiring approvals, medical records and other documents. If a donor requires a physical exam or lab work, then the process will take longer since many doctors’ offices and labs are managing backlogs. Federal, state and local mandates can affect shipments and cycles, and as of this writing, there exists a backlog of embryo transfers due to the logistical challenges everyone is facing. People just entering the donation process can expect greater delays than those who were already involved in a process disrupted by the pandemic.
Local Representation for Donors and Surrogates
Are you considering embryo donation or embryo adoption? Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, would like to help. Our law firm is experienced in navigating both the donation and adoption process, and Donald Cofsky is a Charter Member of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys. Initial consultations are provided at no cost and without obligation, and we can assign you to our New Jersey adoption attorney who will work hard to make this process as smooth and rewarding as possible. Contact us online or call our office in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005; Woodbury, NJ, at (856) 845-2555; or Philadelphia, PA, at (215) 563-2150.