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What Options Are Available To Women And Men Faced With Surplus Embryos?

RESOLVE Speaks Out on National Television

(McLean, VA, August 26, 2009) — As the leading voice for women and men facing infertility, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association (RESOLVE) is educating infertility patients, professionals and the general public about the myriad of  issues concerning surplus embryos following infertility treatments. In a nationally broadcast interview today, Barbara Collura, RESOLVE’s executive director, discussed the issues surrounding embryo disposition as well as the options available to couples.

According to a 2003 report by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) and the nonprofit research institution RAND, 400,000 embryos are currently cryopreserved (frozen) in the United States. “RESOLVE recognizes the ethical, legal, social, and religious considerations regarding this issue but believe it is important to discuss all of the options available to those families who have reached resolution but have surplus embryos in storage,” said Barbara Collura, Executive Director for RESOLVE.

Options exist for couples yet not all of them may be available due to the services provided by their infertility clinic. For example, one option, donating surplus embryos to another couple, may pose challenges if the clinic where the embryos are stored does not offer this procedure.  Other options include donating the embryos to scientific research; thaw and not use them for further treatments; freeze indefinitely; perform a disposal ceremony; or transfer the embryos at an infertile time. Each of these options takes careful consideration by the couple and their healthcare team to determine which one works best for them.

One of these options -- donating embryos to scientific research -- has received national attention due to recently released research guidelines. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) published the "National Institutes of Health Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research" (Executive Order 13505). These guidelines explain the uses of federal funding for human stem cell research, specifically stating that human embryos can only be used for stem cell research if they are surplus embryos created for reproductive purposes and stored at fertility clinics.

Barriers exist for infertility patients to choose the best option for them and to then carry out their wish. RESOLVE’s goal is to keep the lines of communication open between the healthcare community and patients to make sure information surrounding surplus embryos is clear to the 7.3 million Americans facing the disease of infertility. These couples will then be able to make an informed decision following their family building journey.

To interview an expert on this issue and other issues about infertility, contact Shawn Taylor Zelman at 703.556.7172, For more information on RESOLVE, visit RESOLVE’s website at

About RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association:
Founded in 1974, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, headquartered in McLean, VA, is the oldest and largest consumer-based, nonprofit group that provides education, advocacy and compassionate support for those struggling with infertility in the United States. Each year, RESOLVE and its nationwide network of affiliates handle more than 1.5 million contacts from people seeking information and help.  For more information, visit the RESOLVE website at