March 15, 2021

Five Choices for Embryos in Frozen Storage


Earlier this month, an article on the Today Show discussed the emotional experience of saying goodbye to embryos that had been frozen for 25 years. It's disheartening to learn that many embryos remain in frozen storage, forgotten by the families who created them due to indecision. However, leaving embryos in frozen storage for over two decades is not the only option. Research has not determined a specific 'shelf-life' for frozen embryos, and many healthy babies have been born from embryos that are 20 years old or more.

Fertility clinics across the U.S. are well-acquainted with the options available to individuals with remaining embryos:

1. Keep them frozen and pay the annual storage fee: This is a reasonable choice for those planning future pregnancies but less suitable for those who have completed their family.
2. Donate them for reproduction through the clinic: Clinic donation programs typically accept only embryos created at that specific clinic, and they often maintain anonymity.
3. Donate them for reproduction through an adoption agency: The Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program follows adoption best practices, providing peace of mind through recipient vetting and potential communication with genetic siblings.
4. Donate them to science: Researchers may be interested in donated embryos, and clinics can provide information on this option.
5. Thaw and discard them: The clinic can discard them as medical waste, or families may choose an undedicated transfer or arrange for burial through organizations like Sacred Heart Guardians and Shelter.

For those considering in vitro fertilization or with embryos in frozen storage, it's crucial to be aware of these options. If you are interested in donating embryos for reproduction, it's advisable to make a decision sooner rather than later, as finding a recipient becomes more challenging with extended storage. While there is no prescribed 'shelf-life,' it's essential to note that waiting for 27 years is not recommended. Prompt decision-making is encouraged, and you can learn more at

By Amber Ubovich

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