17 years of the Embryo Adoption Programme of Institut Marquès: More than 2,000 babies born worldwide


Institut Marquès was pioneer in the world launching this initiative in 2004. Embryos that are not transferred remain under the custody of the clinic when the parents do not want to decide on their destination. Therefore, we decided to offer them in adoption to our patients. 

17 years later, patients of 124 nationalities have come to our centre to adopt them and more than 2,000 babies have been born thanks to this initiative. "It is a really exciting process, full of hope and excitement, as it represents the achievement of having found a new destiny for these embryos. Adoption gives them a chance at life" explains Dr Marisa López-Teijón, Directrice of Institut Marquès.

This programme offers the embryos frozen in our centre a possibility to live. From the beginning, the response has been exciting because of the social acceptance, the support offered by different groups and the enthusiasm with which women from all over the world come to us to adopt them. Behind each case, there is a special story, either of many failures in previous treatments or having given up the possibility of being parents.

Which embryos can be adopted? 

In accordance with the Spanish law, the embryos available under the Embryo Adoption programme come from healthy parents, under the age of 35, who have successfully undergone an In-Vitro-Fertilisation treatment, in most of the cases with donor egg and / or sperm, and who no longer want to have more children. The treatment must be carried out in Barcelona (Spain), as the embryos proceed from anonymous donors.

The embryos suitable for adoption come from patients who donate them to other couples, or else from patients who disengage from their future - those who do not reply to the numerous letters the centre sends them during a four-year period. According to Spanish legislation, if the couple has not given an answer once this period has ended, the embryos become available to the centre, who will decide upon their future (either conservation, research, donation or destruction). 59% of patients leave the destination of their embryos in the hands of the clinic. Adopted embryos can also come from patients who have undergone an In Vitro Fertilization cycle but don’t wish to vitrify the surplus embryos and, thus, decide to donate them “fresh” to other couples.

Assignment, treatment and success rate

At Institut Marquès, embryos are assigned through a computer system that ensures that each child is born in a different country than the other embryos resulting from the same treatment. This avoids future consanguinities. Adopters accept that the only parameter to choose their embryo is the race. Medical treatment for embryo adoption is simple and painless. The woman's uterus is prepared to receive the embryos through oestrogen patches and vaginal progesterone tablets. After a few days, the uterus is ready and the embryos are thawed and transferred, requiring no hospitalisation. After 14 days, the pregnancy test is performed and, from there on, it evolves like a normal gestation. 

Embryo Adoption does not require any formal adoption procedure, but only to sign an informed consent where the woman or couple explicitly acknowledge to have been informed about the process and to agree with it. 

Throughout the past decade, the rate of embryonic survival after thawing has been improved thanks to vitrification. The current success rate is 57% per cycle, which has also been improving every year.

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Founded 100 years ago in Barcelona, Institut Marquès is an internationally-recognised IVF clinic specialising in IVF with egg and/or semen donation and is accredited by the Spanish Healthcare Authority...

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