IVF swap shop – “Anybody want to trade my girl embryo for a boy?”

Posted in IVF.

A desperate mum has put a call-out on Facebook, in the hopes of swapping embryos with another couple – and ultimately conceiving a baby boy.

A little help from IVF

Lisa and her husband Ray had struggled with fertility issues for nine years, with the couple eventually undergoing IVF to conceive their little boy, Daniel. Three subsequent rounds of IVF, in the hopes of providing their five-year-old with a sibling, were unsuccessful.

With their little boy now joining the push for a sibling, and wondering when he is going to have a little brother, Lisa and Ray have renewed their efforts to have another child. That child needs to be a little boy, the pair says. 

  Read more about IVF:

“Something I can leverage”

They already have a female embryo in storage, from a fourth round of IVF. A further attempt at donor egg matching and producing a boy child – at a cost of $12000 – was not successful.

It was on dropping that $12K – after already spending thousands and thousands of dollars – that the pair decided they would be willing to part with the female embryo in their quest to have a son.

“I made up my mind as a reaction to losing the $12,000. Now I have a commodity — something I can leverage,” an understandably frustrated Lisa explained to the NY Post.

“Economically, it makes sense for us to have a boy,” Lisa continued. “We have a two-bedroom house with no space for a third bedroom. We bought it when Daniel was an infant, and now prices have risen so much in this neighbourhood. There is no way we could afford [a separate bedroom for a girl]. We’d have to move to Nebraska.”

We’re not sure that is really a valid argument for wanting a baby to be a particular sex, but it’s clear that this couple have their hearts set on a boy … for whatever reasons. 

IVF embryo swap
“Great quality female embryo”

Last week, Lisa took her hopes of having a second baby boy to social media, reportedly posting an offer to swap embryos with another family in a number of IVF focused Facebook groups.

“Hello, we have been trying to give my child a sibling for three years,” she wrote. “We want to complete our family with a son. We have a great quality female embryo hatching. Would like to consider a trade?”

While the post received complaints and was removed from some groups, it also did the trick, catching the eye of some other parents who got in touch.

IVF / making an embryo

Keen to ‘swap’ embryos

One particular couple – Jodie and James (not their real names, the Post says) – were among them.

‘Jodie and James’ are already parents to two boys and they want to add a baby girl to their family. Their girl embryo was conceived via a donor egg and James’s sperm and they’re hoping that Lisa and Ray will be keen to ‘swap’ so they can have the daughter they’ve dreamed of.

“The concern that I have is that they might think I am too old,” Jodie told the Post. “But I’m young at heart. Plus we’re are a good, middle-class family with a four-level townhouse.”

Who knew that large homes played such a pivotal role in making babies? 

Fewer fart jokes?

Jodie said that she’d like some different energy in her home – and a baby girl might bring that.

“It would be very nice not to have nothing but fart jokes at the table all the time. That’d be great,” Jodie told the Post.

That said, she insists she’s not keen to pigeon hole her children with gender stereotypes.

“If I were to pick a really girlie thing to do with her, she might not like it,” Jodie pointed out. “Our elder child loves dance and has an aptitude for it. If she decided she had an aptitude or talent for something else — baseball or whatever — we would encourage her.”

Male-embryo-seeking Lisa’s response to Jodie and James’ offer was “cautiously optimistic”.

“It’s fantastic that the embryo is in the US,” Lisa said. “It’s a step closer to my dream and I would hope that it’s a step closer for her, too. I know we have some legal hurdles … I don’t want to get my hopes up that it could be this easy.”

Closeup yawning baby

Can you even do this?

So – putting the SUPER complicated ethics of this aside for one moment – would this ‘swap’ even be legal in Australia? Preliminary investigation suggests that if no money changes hands, it just might be because each couple is simply donating their embryo to the other.

“Embryo donation is legal in Australia and is supported by a number of fertility clinics,” the Embryo Donation Network websites says, however “the processes surrounding donating or receiving unused embryos vary widely between clinics and are subject to the legislation in each state.”

That said, we’re not totally sure about the legality of soliciting a ‘swap’ based on the sex of a child via social media. 

In the US embryo donation and ‘adoption’ is fairly commonplace, with a particular need for embryos from “minority ethnic backgrounds” this site says.


Get more babyology straight to your inbox