BOSTON, April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Boston IVF, a leading medical practice providing specialized infertility treatment since 1986, has received a two-year federal grant, totaling $1 million, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve patient understanding of and interest in donating frozen embryos resulting from in vitro fertilization (IVF) to others undergoing infertility treatment. Boston IVF recently received the second half of the grant funding, to develop the Frozen Embryo Donation Service, including training protocols for infertility clinics aimed at enhancing clinician and patient awareness and interest in embryo donation. Boston IVF will also develop educational services for patients with embryos in storage, as well as potential recipients, to increase the number of patients willing to consider donation. New procedures, including appropriate patient consent forms, laboratory protocols and legal and financial materials will also be created as part of this initiative. Brandeis University is collaborating with Boston IVF on the evaluation, including patient surveys, as part of this campaign.
"A major goal of the Frozen Embryo Donation Service is to develop training programs for infertility clinics, including physicians, nurses and mental health counselors, and facilitate new protocols to support embryo donation in the U.S.," said Alison Zimon, MD, a Reproductive Endocrinologist at Boston IVF and Principal Investigator for this program. "At the same time, we are also creating education and support services for both potential donors and recipients, to promote embryo donation as an important option that can help thousands of infertility patients who cannot use their own eggs, sperm or embryos to achieve pregnancy."
In the course of infertility treatment, couples typically produce more embryos than they use, which are often frozen or cryo-preserved, and may be used in future infertility treatment cycles. The latest data suggest that there are more than 600,000 frozen embryos in the United States. Unused frozen embryos may be donated to other patients to use as part of their own efforts to achieve pregnancy. Currently, a very small percentage of embryos in storage are donated; many will remain in storage or later be discarded. Success rates (resulting in a live birth) using frozen donated embryos are approximately 35% per embryo donated.
Under the first phase of this program, Boston IVF is completing a patient survey, the results of which will guide the development of educational and counseling services related to embryo donation. 1,000 former patients who have undergone infertility treatment at Boston IVF were randomized into two groups. A control group received standard services, while an intervention group received additional, written information about embryo donation and a follow up phone call from the research coordinator.
"Hundreds of patients with frozen embryos in storage have responded to the study's survey," said Professor Donald S. Shepard, Schneider Institutes for Health Policy, Heller School, Brandeis University. "This helps ensure that their attitudes and concerns are understood and addressed."
Working with researchers from Brandeis University, data on donor attitudes and responses, recipient knowledge and interest, and changes in patient behavior, including donation rates, are being evaluated. Changes in clinical staff knowledge and attitudes are also being studied.
"By educating clinicians and other key staff, and enhancing patient communication, we hope to establish frozen embryo donation as a realistic, cost effective and successful treatment option for many patients undergoing infertility treatment," added Zimon.
The Office of Population Affairs (OPA) within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH), within HHS, is conducting a multi-year public awareness campaign, to increase public awareness of embryo donation and ultimately promote the use of embryo donation as a family building option. Since 2002, nine organizations have received grant funding as part of this effort. Boston IVF is the largest infertility practice to be selected by HHS to participate in this grant program.
This material is being produced with funding support from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. The statements expressed here are those of Boston IVF, and do not represent the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
About Infertility and Embryo Donation
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse (six months if the woman is over age 35) or the inability to carry a pregnancy to term, and affects 7.3 million people in the U.S., or 1 in 8 couples. Approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner, one-third attributed to the male partner and one-third is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or, is unexplained. For those patients who cannot use their own oocytes (eggs), there are limited options for family building. Many patients choose donor eggs, which are limited in availability and costly.
About Boston IVF
With more than 30,000 babies born since 1986 and 12 convenient locations throughout New England, Boston IVF is among America's most experienced fertility centers. Boston IVF is a leading center for reproductive technologies and exceptional patient care. Its renowned team of Board certified infertility physicians and researchers have achieved early clinical success, including the first baby born in New England via IVF/ICSI, the first donor egg pregnancy and the first baby born in Massachusetts from a frozen egg. Please visit our website at www.bostonivf.com for more information.
SOURCE Boston IVF