Pay It Forward Day is April 28, 2011. The concept is pretty simple. According to the Pay It Forward Day Website, “Pay it Forward Day is all about people, from all walks of life giving to someone else and making a positive difference.” Is there a better example of paying it forward than donating embryos?
Deciding what to do with frozen embryos is a tremendously difficult decision. Certainly, using the embryos to expand one’s own family is ideal, but some patients need to look for other options. Our goal is to decrease the number of frozen embryos that are cryopreserved indefinitely, abandoned or discarded. Donating embryos to science or to patients in need are decisions that pay it forward. While human embryonic stem cell research holds promise, its potential outcome is uncertain and may not be known for many years. Therefore, donating embryos to patients in need may be the best immediate option. Embryo donation has the potential to build families that would otherwise not exist.
Infertility patients, when they come to the conclusion that they will not be able to have children of their own with other types of treatment, are also faced with difficult options. Adoption may be cost prohibitive, so embryo donation may be the last, best choice for them. Not only are the embryo donors paying it forward, but so are the recipients. The embryo recipients are giving a lifelong commitment to the offspring of these donated embryos.
The reproductive facilities that have dedicated their efforts to build families through embryo donation are also paying it forward. The time, effort and complexities regarding embryo donation are daunting and reproductive facilities can certainly spend their time more profitably on other options. The practices dedicated to embryo donation feel that embryos deserve a heightened level of respect and are committed to their patients by offering an option for family building that few are able to provide.
In a world that is increasingly complex and overwhelmingly busy, it is wonderful to know that the basic human experience is still really about caring for each other. Pay it Forward Day is the antithesis of this endeavor and who cannot be inspired by our courageous embryo donors and our committed embryo recipients?
Pay it forward yourself on April 28 and please encourage patients with cryopreserved embryos to consider doing the same. Families are just waiting to begin.
Dr. Craig Sweet is the medical director and founder of Embryo Donation International, a private non-faith based, non-discriminatory reproductive endocrinology and infertility practice located in Fort Myers, Florida.
In a small way, Embryo Donation International has decided to make a positive difference. For every set of embryos donated, they will pay it forward by donating to one of ten international, national and regional charities selected by the donor(s), including The American Fertility Association. For more information and a full list of the designated charities, please visit www.embryodonation.com/donating-to-charity.php