‘Poor Quality’ Embryos Become Braxton and Brody

Often we will hear remaining embryos are poor quality embryos that should simply be destroyed rather than used for reproduction.  Here is the truth:

  1. The majority of embryos in frozen storage are stored there for use by the family who had them created in the first place. They expect to use them for more successful pregnancies.
  2. The majority of donated embryos have existing genetic siblings who were born from the same set of embryos. They have a proven track record of a successful pregnancy.
  3. Physicians give grades to embryos, but they cannot guarantee that a grade ‘A’ embryo will bring forth a baby, nor can they guarantee a grade ‘C’ embryo will not. They simply do not know.
  4. Many embryos created for in vitro fertilization treatments are created using donated human eggs harvested from women under 25 years of age. The primary indicator of success in an embryo transfer is the maternal age of the egg used to create the embryo. Just about 50% of all donated embryos are created with donor eggs or donor sperm or both!


The story of Jack and Karen is an awesome testimony to the resiliency of the human embryo.

Jack and Karen gave birth to their first embryo adopted baby, a daughter named Abigail. Wanting to have more kids, and without more embryos, Jack and Karen returned to the adoption agency to adopt more embryos.

They adopted 6 2PN zygote embryos created in 2006, frozen for 8 years.

What does that curious acronym 2PN mean? It means the embryo was frozen before it began the process of cell division, scientifically it is called a zygote, the embryo was frozen shortly after the egg and sperm were united in the petri dish.

But what does it really mean?  In the world of reproductive medicine, the gold standard in frozen embryos today is to freeze embryos at the blastocyst stage, after 5-6 days of development in the petri dish.  The embryo will contain 100s of cells and at this stage is said to be ‘ready to hatch’.  Doctors feel that this stage in the embryo development is best for ensuring pregnancy success.

Jack and Karen’s physician decided to thaw all 6 embryos of these ‘poor quality’ embryos and 2 embryos were transferred into Karen’s womb.  She did not get pregnant.

Here is where the story again compels you to consider who should decide whether or not an embryo is viable.

Their doctor told them that none of their remaining 4 embryos survived.

Imagine her surprise when she received a call from the fertility clinic nurse that had been helping them with their treatment. The nurse told Karen there were actually two of their adopted embryos in frozen storage at the clinic. They had survived the first thawing procedure, they had been re-frozen, but the doctor had determined that these two embryos were of such poor quality that it would better for them not to know about these remaining embryos. Transferring them would be a ‘waste of time and money’.

Fortunately for Karen and Jack, the nurse was not comfortable lying to them.

Karen explained to the nurse she and Jack made a commitment to each and every one of the embryos they adopted, regardless of quality.  They scheduled their final embryo transfer the following month.

Jack and Karen welcomed twin boys Braxton and Brody into their family.  Both of the remaining ‘not worth using’, frozen, thawed, frozen, thawed embryos had implanted into Karen’s womb and resulted in the successful pregnancy and birth of twins!

The Embryo Adoption Awareness Center invited Dr. Jeffrey Nelson to give a presentation on Embryo Quality. Are you curious about embryo development and the opportunity for success using embryo adoption?  Dr. Nelson also helped the Center with a video on this topic.