Deborah Knight's heartbreaking decision: What should I do with my last embryo?
Channel 9 newsreader Deborah Knight faces a terrible dilemma: what to do with the frozen embryo remaining from her IVF treatments.
Deborah, who has two children, Darcy, 3, and Elsa, 2, via IVF reveals: "There are many complex decisions you can imagine facing with your partner, but what to do with an excess embryo is not something my husband and I ever anticipated. We could donate it to research to help others. We could let it simply expire. We could have one last go and try our luck for another baby. Or depending on the clinic's policies, we could donate it to another family not as lucky as us."
She's not alone.
Professor Jenni Millbank, Professor of Law at the University of Technology, writes at The Conversation: "More than 120,000 human embryos are now in storage across Australia. While the majority will be used in future IVF cycles, many thousands will never be needed, leading to difficult choices for parents. Over the past decade in Victoria alone, over 20,000 embryos were discarded as a result of mandatory storage limits set by law.
"Discarded" and "expired" are disturbing words to be using in the same sentence as "embryo". Especially when fertility clinics are advising women to destroy healthy embryos after five years in accordance with government guidelines.
The issues surrounding the dilemma lead Professor Millbank and a team of law researchers to undertake the Enhancing Reproductive Opportunity project to explore whether IVF patients felt pressured to dispose of stored embryos.
One of the patients, Danielle, explained: "What I would like to see happen is a more empathetic understanding that embryos come with a set of emotions and meanings attached outside of fertility, outside of science; because we can’t predict how people will feel about their embryos."
Her research has lead to a call for an urgent review of current IVF laws, which have been described as "complicated, intrusive and disrespectful".
"Law should not set blanket storage periods that enforce destruction of embryos after a set period," Dr Millbank said. "There's no reason why an external body should be telling when embryos have to be destroyed. That should be the decision of the people who created them. People don't understand that clinics are following guidelines rather than a hard and fast law."
Do you have frozen embryos? Are you agonising over what to do with them?