National Trends and Outcomes of Embryo Donation

Jennifer F. Kawwass, MD, FACOG Assistant Professor, Emory Reproductive Center Director of Third Party Reproduction, Emory Reproductive Center

Dr. Jennifer F. Kawwass Interview with:
Jennifer F. Kawwass, MD, FACOG

Assistant Professor, Emory Reproductive Center
Director of Third Party Reproduction, Emory Reproductive Center What is the background for this study?

Response: With the increasing use of assisted reproductive technology (ART), the number of cryopreserved embryos in storage has increased, as residual viable embryos from an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle may be frozen for future use. Each embryo maintains attributes reflective of the age of the female at time of the original oocyte retrieval. Embryo donation, a form of third-party reproduction, involves donation without compensation of previously formed embryos to another couple for implantation.

Limited published data exist detailing outcomes of donor embryo cycles. Patients and clinicians would benefit from information specific to donor embryo cycles to inform fertility treatment options, counselling, and clinical decision-making. We sought to quantify trends in donor embryo cycles in the United States, to characterize donor embryo recipients, and to report transfer, pregnancy, and birth outcomes of donor embryo transfers. What are the main findings?

Response: Among all frozen transfers from 2000 through 2013 (n = 391,662), the annual number of donor embryo transfers increased significantly from 332 to 1374, however the proportion of donor embryo transfers among all frozen transfers did not change significantly (2.3 to 2.6%). Both overall pregnancy and live birth rates per frozen donor embryo transfer increased significantly (33.3 to 49.1% and 26.5 to 40.8%, respectively) (P < .01). Among all initiated donor embryo cycles from 2007 through 2013 (n = 7,289), the overall cancellation rate prior to transfer was 7.1. Among all transfers from 2007 through 2013 (n = 6,773), 3,193 (47.2%) resulted in pregnancy and 2,589 (38.2%) resulted in a live birth. Among all pregnancies, 535 (16.9%) resulted in a miscarriage. Among all live births, 1929 (74.5%) delivered a singleton of which 1482 (76.8%) were full term and normal birthweight. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The increasing availability of donor embryos, low chance of cancellation, and increasing likelihood of achieving live birth can inform consumers and providers who are considering assisted reproductive technology options. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Collection of data surrounding donated embryo formation would allow for additional studies that can elucidate predictors of success among donor embryo transfers. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Dec;215(6):747.e1-747.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2016.06.050. Epub 2016 Jul 5.
Embryo donation: national trends and outcomes, 2000 through 2013.
Kawwass JF1, Crawford S2, Hipp HS3, Boulet SL2, Kissin DM3, Jamieson DJ3; National ART Surveillance System Group.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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