An Australian company is turning the ashes of dead embryos leftover from IVF into keepsake jewellery.
A parenting blog reported the story of a couple who used the company to have their seven "spare" embryos turned into a heart-shaped pendant. Ms Stafford told the site that after a painful six years of IVF and three babies being born, she and her husband struggled to know what to do with the other embryos. "My embryos were my babies - frozen in time. When we completed our family, it wasn’t in my heart to destroy them. Now they are forever with me in a beautiful keepsake."
The company, Baby Bee Hummingbird, primarily crafts keepsake jewellery out of breastmilk, placenta, hair, ashes, or cord stumps. However, founder Amy McGlade said that since launching in 2014 her designs have included 50 made with embryos.
"I don’t believe there is any other business in the world that creates jewellery from human embryos, and I firmly believe that we are pioneering the way in this sacred art, and opening the possibilities to families around the world," she said. She called making jewellery out of embryos that have been created and then destroyed a "beautiful and meaningful way to gently close the door" of an IVF journey, and asked "what better way to celebrate your most treasured gift, your child, than through jewellery?"
This story highlights one of the lesser known problems of IVF - what to do with the unwanted frozen embryos (now sometimes called "snowflake babies"). The couple in this story couldn't afford to freeze them indefinitely, and couldn't cope with the idea of donating or destroying them. The obvious option of trying to become pregnant with the embryos and give them a chance of being born was also rejected: as the mother said, "I wanted to keep having more babies but the emotional toll, plus financially it was too much."
Only about 1 in 25 embryos created through IVF survives to birth. Between 1978 and 2002 68,000 IVF babies have been born but in the process 1.2 million embryos created by IVF were frozen, destroyed or used in research.
Fertility industry exploiting women and babies
This news comes as the UK fertility industry faces allegations of a catalogue of abuses following an investigation by the Daily Mail. In addition to claims that IVF clinics have been pressuring women into donating eggs in return for free treatment, and giving false hope over egg freezing, they were accused today of covering up potentially fatal side effects of IVF.