Consult: California Conceptions

There’s been a lot of chatter in my household leading up to the big OE verdict about what to do “if”. Also, I’m a doer, a person who likes to take action, and busily planning the back-up plan, while extremely stressful and heartbreaking, quells my anxiety a little bit about being caught off-guard by bad news…again. As such, I’ve had some interesting consultations in recent weeks, which I thought I’d share with the broader audience in honor of ICLW if only because it beats several more rounds of me emoting all over the place, making a mess of my blog, and waking up in the morning with poster’s remorse as if it were some drunken, tawdry one-night stand.

Today is day 5 of 6. Most of my embryos are dead by now–that’s a reality; the embryologist said they see an average of 30-40% developing into blasts. What’s left of my hope is 2,000 miles away in a lab beyond my reach, either developing well or not. In 36 hours, we’ll either get the worst news or a stay of execution pending CCS results. It’s all a bit of a head trip.

All the more reason to present you with my notes on the alternatives. California Conceptions has a donor embryo program that is very different from the typical situation in which a couple has leftover embryos that they give freely to another couple. This program essentially creates embryos from donor eggs and donor sperm and then sets up a shared cycle for, it seems, 2 to 3 recipients. There are a lot of ethical questions surrounding this approach, mostly because the embryos are manufactured, in a sense, and commoditized such that the clinic could potentially own embryos, future human beings, if they had an unpredictable surplus from one of these shared cycles. For me, the ethical hang-ups hovered around the sheer number of half siblings created by egg donors who could potentially max themselves out at 6 cycles by working with multiple programs plus the use of sperm donors from the cryobank, and we all know how that goes. BUT, and this is a big but, for $12.5k (less than half the cost of a donor egg cycle) they basically guarantee pregnancy. When you get into the terrain of 3rd party reproduction and adoption, the costs become so prohibitive that this is an attractive option for couples who are tapped out from OE treatment and desperate to become parents.

These are my notes from the call:
* Very basic matching criteria: race only
– In-house female donor pool from Northern California
– Each donor only gets used up to two times in this program
– They can’t control how many times donors participate in other programs
– Cryobank sperm donor
– Donor/donor combo only used once
– Sperm banks don’t generally want more than 25 families from one donor but it’s best to assume there are a lot of kids, albeit not hundreds
– NOT matched for physical characteristics; more like adoption that way
– More information about donors available once matched
– Not all donors are proven, but proven or unproven status is on profile

* Guarantee
– Up to 3 transfers, must be within a year
– Refund contingent on in-house saline sono ($350, billable to insurance)
– Different donors each time you’re matched
– Up to 12 weeks of pregnancy
– BMI of 28 or less
– $12.5k

* Need letter from mental health professional
* Meds for transfer protocol would still be covered by insurance if there is existing coverage for fertility prescriptions.

* Timing
– 1-3 months to be matched with profile
– FETs are obviously easier to time but fresh transfers require flexible timing
– Plan to be out in California for a week (lining check to transfer)

* Success Rates
– 50/50 FET pregnancy rate, 50% of clinical pregnancies are twins
– ¾ fresh transfers result in pregnancy
– They only issued 5 refunds out of first 100 patients (because everyone else was successful)

* How do you determine who gets what quality?
– A, B, and C recipients (priority order) determined by who gets the profile back fastest
– Can’t guarantee DET in case both embryos don’t survive the thaw
– Top blasts distributed as fairly as possible for first embryo, second embryo for DET from second stringers if need be.

That’s my PSA for today. Stay tuned tomorrow for DE in Czech.

11 thoughts on “Consult: California Conceptions

  1. i live in a fairly modern country…yet some of the procedures you write about sound like a science fiction…guarantees, success rates, how pragmatic is it possible to be in the most emotional thing in the world? good old europe still has a long way to go and many thngs to learn


    • I know, and with this particular program, a lot of it is morally sticky. But in the end, sometimes a person just wants to be a parent, and once the child is born and real and the bond forms, how much would a person think about these ethical questions? To be honest, I’m not sure. Ultimately, I don’t think that this program is right for us, but it might be for some people.


  2. This is really interesting–I didn’t know such a program existed. If it comes to it, we’ll use DS + frozen/fresh (I’d prefer frozen) DE at my current clinic. This is a lot less expensive. We already purchased our DS, so this program is out for us, but it may come in handy to someone else, and something to keep in mind if things change. For me, the thought of DE makes the prospect of my eggs not being viable a little more palatable. Although a very difficult thought, it actually makes me feel better knowing there are still options available in the event things don’t work out with my OE.


    • Glad I could share the info. I wish I felt that way about DE. The loss of it makes me so incredibly sad and insecure. And tomorrow it may become my reality.


  3. I was able to conceive and deliver my daughter through California Conceptions. I was 45 and unable to afford to conceive using other available methods. While I understand the ethical concerns regarding possible exponential number of half siblings, I felt the risk was outweighed by a more pragmatic approach. Even if I could contract with an egg donor personally, I can’t control how many times she chooses to donate. The sperm donor in my daughter’s case was from a cryobank so there was some limit on that based on that bank’s location. I am thrilled to be a parent and my daughter is amazing and perfect. Surprisingly enough, she looks enough like me so many think she is my biological child. When I joined the program in 2011, the cost was less, but the program has become extremely popular. I was able to conceive and carry successfully with my first IVF. I feel blessed.


    • Hello
      Congratulations first and foremost! Thank you for sharing your experience. I am looking into CC and would love to hear your thoughts. There are so many ins and outs to fertility clinics and the Yelp reviews for CC are terrible so I would appreciate any thoughts on your care.


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