Some one hundred thousand embryos sit frozen in fertility clinics around the US. What should be done with them and whose decision is it?
Jennifer Matthews: Bob and Betty Burnett dreamed of starting a family. But like one in six couples, they struggled for years to make it happen. Betty Burnett: Every pregnant woman in the world suddenly seems to be in the market, and at the store, and it's just you. Jennifer Matthews: They turned to in vitro fertilization. And after their second try had Grace and Sam. But their emotional roller coaster didn't end there. They had five more embryos still frozen. Bob Burnett: You realize that the potential for those embryos being additional children is there. Jennifer Matthews: The Burnett's' situation is all too common. Dr. John Garrisi: A quarter to a third of our patients complete their families with embryos remaining in the freezer. Jennifer Matthews: While patients fill out consent forms embryologist John Garrisi says extra embryos are rarely their first concern. Dr. John Garrisi: Our patients, by the time they reach us, have had years, sometimes many years, of infertility. It's a cruel thing to make them focus on it for in any serious way. Jennifer Matthews: This tank alone holds more than six thousand frozen embryos. While no one knows for sure, there could be more than 100,000 frozen embryos in the U.S. Dr. Glenn McGee: There is more regulation about how much insulation there has to be in your microwave or how circuses should keep their monkeys than there is about frozen embryos in the US. Jennifer Matthews: Bioethicist Glenn McGee worries about the future of this tenuous situation. Dr. Glenn McGee: If the wrong person does the wrong thing because there are no rules, then you can really screw up a family and screw up a little kid. Jennifer Matthews: Despite the concerns, there can be happy endings. For bob and Betty, it was putting their remaining embryos up for adoption. For six years Lucinda and John Borden tried to get pregnant. Lucinda Borden: You go through anger; you go through grief, and sadness and loss. Jennifer Matthews: Then they decided to adopt frozen embryos. Lucinda Borden: At first I was a little leery of it. I wasn't really sure what that meant. Then it was okay and then I got excited. Jennifer Matthews: The result? Mark and Luke - and a flood of emotions. Lucinda Borden: Overwhelming, exciting, terrifying, incredible. Jennifer Matthews: Both of these couples have found one answer to a difficult decision. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.