Embryo Remains Burial

Sacred Heart Guardians and Shelter (SHG) facilitates a quarterly communal burial for embryos who die (“arrest”) in  IVF laboratories. This service is free to all and we gladly serve people of all faiths.

Cause of embryo death may include: Self-arrest any time after fertilization; Discard per grade, PGD or PGS result; Failure to survive freeze or thaw process; Cryo-preservation equipment malfunction; Patient-elected thaw without transfer.

2023 burials will be at Epiphany Catholic Cemetery in Coon Rapids, MN (East Cemetery). Burials will take place on February 8, 2023; May 3, 2023; August TBD, 2023; and November TBD, 2023. 

Next burial: Wednesday, May 3, 2023. 9:30 am. – 10:00 am. (Burial + Rosary). Epiphany Catholic Cemetery. East Cemetery. Coon Rapids, MN.

How It Works (Labs: Click Here)

1. PRINT SHG Embryo Remains Burial flyer and bring it to your next clinic appointment. If possible, share your request for burial PRIOR to the start of an IVF cycle.

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2. Your lab will ship the remains to SHG. In some instances, your fertility center may require that you collect the remains from them. In this case, we will provide you with all the shipping materials and a prepaid shipping label. Deceased embryos can be sent to us at any time from IVF labs, storage facilities, or patients located in the United States. 

3. No patient-identifying information is needed. The lab can send us remains from patients who prefer to remain anonymous.

4. A communal* burial service is held quarterly at a Roman Catholic cemetery (St. Paul, MN). We gladly serve people of all faiths. Your attendance is welcome, but not required. (*All arrested embryos received from all labs and facilities share a common burial container and no names are used. A grave marker is inscribed with the date of burial as well as a short, faithful passage.

5. Documentation including location of the grave within the cemetery is mailed to your clinic, and you may retrieve it from there, as you desire. With your permission, we can send this information directly to you.

Sacred Heart Guardians and Shelter (SHG) is grateful for the support and services provided by the partnership with Epiphany Catholic Church & Cemetery and all those who donate to SHG, making this work possible.

A special note on frozen embryos: 

Burial IS: a respectable alternative to waste disposal for deceased embryos.

Burial IS NOT:  A “disposition option” like Donation/Adoption, Donation to Research, and Thaw and Discard.  

A frozen embryo is a human being in a state of “suspended animation” that, if transferred, may very well continue living.

Having “extra” frozen embryos at the end of IVF is a terrible situation that too many unsuspecting people find themselves in. Take as much time as you need in this decision-making process. There is no rush. Continuing to pay for the embryos’ safe storage shows a good faith effort to care for them. You may even think about seeking professional counselling or spiritual direction during this time.

If you find that “Thaw & Discard” is the only option that remains for you, we are here to serve you, without judgment. We believe that burial, rather than waste disposal, honors the life of your embryo. And we hope this simple act will give you peace and healing.

For more information, contact Laura at 612-578-0377 or laura@sacredheartguardians.org.