There is now an online dating service - for embryos.

There are an estimated 120,000 embryos on ice across Australia right this second.

Some of these embryos will be implanted, but many may not be.

In the IVF world, couples with unused embryos are usually given three options. Most often, they are either destroyed or donated to science, but a third option of embryo donation does exist. And it could be the right fit for you.

embryo donation
Embryo donation provides another alternative to have a family – the chance to be parents. Image via istock.

Embryo donation is the giving of unused embryos, which remain after one couple’s IVF process to another couple – without payment.

For David and Marieke McPhail, their experience with infertility lead them to identify an untapped market – a matching service for donors and recipients.

Read more: Modern dilemma: Sofia Vergara’s ex is suing her to get access to her embryos.


On Network Ten’s, The Project, Marieke said, “You’re never prepared for all your dreams of having a family to be shattered. For us, I think it meant that we just grieved for all the children that we would never have.”

With this in mind, Marieke co-founded the Embryo Donation Network, an online forum which connects embryo donors with hopeful recipients.

But, there’s a catch.

David and Marieke McPhail are behind the Australian embryo connection service, Embryo Donation Network.

Marieke said, “Some of our clients describe our embryo connect service as a little bit like online dating”.

Couples and individuals can access the ‘classifieds’ for free or tap into the Embryo Connect service for a once-off administration fee of $50. From there, donors and recipients are required fill out a detailed profile of themselves, including anything from hair colour to financial state, to social values and education.

Want more? Try: She has 6 embryos to give away but only to potential parents who will meet her conditions.

Often donors and recipients will also indicate if they want an ‘open adoption’ with contact between families or a closed one.

Here’s an example we found from a donor:

“Looking for a happy and loving home for 6 frozen embryos made when I was 30yo. My husband and I have completed our family and would like to give someone else the chance to do the same. We are both Caucasian with blue eyes and brown hair. We are looking to donate to a person or couple who are open to sharing some information about our respective children (or future children) as the years progress. We are also hoping to find a recipient with a commitment to equality, respect and social justice. If this sounds like you, we would love to hear from you.”

And another from a hopeful recipient:

“We are a happily married Adelaide couple in our early forties. We have been trying to have a baby for over four years. We have done 4 IVF cycles with my own eggs (all unsuccessful) and two unsuccessful cycles with an egg donor. We are here in the hope of finding some kind people who are willing to donate their embryos to us so that we can become a family. We are financially secure and would be loving parents to your gift.”

As you can see, the network operates in much the same way as an online dating forum – both donors and recipients have the opportunity to pick and choose what is right for them.

David and Marieke’s embryo donor, Jennifer Hunt, has recently been in touch with Mamamia through social media. And these are the beautiful words she has shared with us:

We are the family featured on The Project together with Marieke, David and baby Zoe. We have four children and decided to donate our two remaining embryos to Marieke and David after discovering their advertisement in Sydney’s Child magazine. We felt very comfortable and knew that if successful, they would raise children into a wonderful, loving environment. 

Zoe is the biological sibling of our 4 children, and given we were filmed by The Project two weeks ago, we then brought forward our discussion with the children to explain how special Zoe is to our family. Our boys (9 and 7) still don’t fully grasp it, and the girls (twins aged 2) are too young. But we’ll continue the discussion with them as they grow older. 

We opted for open donation to a couple that we had not known before, but for whom we thought it would make a wonderful difference in their lives. We also wanted to know when a child would be born and for yearly photos so that a) we would not be left wondering; and b) to ensure our children didn’t hook up in later years – that would not be fair. We wanted to ensure that any child born could have contact with us if they wish, and that will be Zoe’s decision as she grows and understands just how special she is.  

We’re thrilled that Marieke has set up the Embryo Donation Network, and hopefully it will result in more donations. We understand it’s not for everybody, but for us it was the right decision.  

Zoe’s parents will be informed of all blood relatives as time goes by, and if Zoe wishes to meet extended biological family, she can. She has a wonderful family right now, and if she chooses, she can learn of her genetic background. We’re delighted with our communication and arrangement. So many had a part to play in Zoe’s birth – us doing IVF, the clinic, the embryologist, Marieke’s parents and their determination to find an embryo donor, and ultimately (in our view) God. It’s good news all ’round.

If you want to learn more about Embryo donation, you can visit the Embryo Donation Network.

Would you donate your embryos to another couple?