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Unused Embryos Vex Infertility Patients

Survey Shows Many Couples Aren't Sure What to Do With Leftover Frozen Embryos

'Not an Easy Decision'

Lyerly says she hopes the survey findings will encourage more in vitro fertilization (IVF) physicians to discuss embryo disposal options with their patients before decisions need to be made.

"We aren't advocating that patients make the decision up front," she says. "But there does need to be a discussion about options and the fact that they are probably going to have to make a decision at some point."

Marti Bailey of Knoxville, Tenn., agrees.

Bailey was in charge of public relations for Knoxville's National Embryo Donation Center before giving birth to twins from donor embryos eight months ago.

Even though she is a passionate advocate of embryo donation for use by infertile couples, Bailey says she understands the conflicted feelings patients have about donating their unused frozen embryos.

Her donation was open, meaning that she keeps in touch with the Connecticut couple that provided the embryos that produced her baby daughter and son.

"This is not an easy decision," she says. "When I worked at the center I saw firsthand how little patients and even doctors and counselors knew about the options. It is important for these professionals to talk to patients about this issue before decisions have to be made."

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