What is embryo adoption, and why does it matter? At Institut Marques, we've trail-blazed the use of donated embryos in assisted reproduction treatment for more than a decade, yet it's now that we're seeing more and more patients coming to us to learn about the possibilities it offers.
For those who dream of parenthood, but are struggling to conceive, the journey to becoming a proud mother or father can be a stressful and, often, overwhelming process.
Thankfully, there are more options open to prospective parents than there have ever been, as medicine and research continue to make leaps forward. Embryo adoption is particularly close to my heart through the work that we do at Institut Marques.
Rather than traditional IVF, which involves fertilising the eggs of a prospective mother, embryo adoption is a treatment which helps women to fall pregnant with embryos whose parents have not chosen their destination.
In Spain, those embryos fall under the care of a fertility centre after four years. These have now become a golden gift for those who don't have the means to adopt or go through more traditional and expensive routes.
Adoption of babies is, of course, the most traditional process of all. However, this is rightly becoming a much more stringent process, particularly for global adoptions. Across the world, developing countries have tightened up on 'adoption tourism', the practice of foreigners adopting children from countries and taking them to other countries to raise as their own.
As medicine, contraception and healthcare improves, there are now also fewer children who are available for adoption. It has become tougher for prospective parents to adopt. Nowadays, people are looking for other options.
There are some interesting statistics around the patients that have taken part in the Institut Marques embryo adoption programme since it was launched it in 2004. Almost three quarters are parents who've gone through the traditional treatments without success, trying on average for more than four years.
Embryo adoption is giving couples (and singles for that matter - a fifth of patients are single women) another ray of hope in their efforts to have a baby.
While Spain remains the most liberal when it comes to assisted reproduction law, the thirst for embryo adoption is worldwide. We've helped patients from more than 33 countries, from Great Britain to Guatemala, Norway to New Zealand. We've just opened a new clinic in Clane, Ireland, which receives eggs from our Barcelona HQ and carries out embryo adoption for UK and Ireland patients. Now, they don't have to travel so far for the treatment.
Plus, as new techniques and developments drive up the number of successful treatments, the journey for those going through the assisted reproduction process is now shorter and therefore cheaper. We've seen fascinating results through clinical trials into the use of music in IVF - now proven to increase chances of success by 5%.
Working in an area of medicine that helps people achieve their dream of parenthood is a particularly rewarding experience. Embryo adoption is now providing modern hopefuls with another choice as they look to become part of the parenting miracle.