Mom Gives Birth to Baby From 24-Year-Old Frozen Embryo
by Lisa René LeClair
Photograph by Southern Charm Portraits
Tina and Benjamin Gibson wanted to start a family after they got married seven years ago, but due to a medical condition that can result in male infertility, they were unsure if they
could ever have kids. Instead, the couple turned their Tennessee house into a home for foster kids until they were ready
But last year,
something unexpected happened. While taking a break between hosting foster children,
Tina's father shared a story that changed their lives forever. Little did she know that she would soon be breaking a world record.
In an interview
Tina recounted his words: "I saw
something on the news today. It's called embryo adoption, and they would
implant an embryo in you, and you could carry a baby."
In August of
2016, the couple agreed to apply for the procedure. By spring 2017, three embryos
were safely housed inside of her uterus.
Sommerfelt, the embryology lab director at the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) who transferred the embryos into Gibson’s uterus, said she had unthawed three
"snowbabies" from the same anonymous donor and was amazed at the
results. While only one of the three implanted in Tina's uterus, Sommerfelt said that rate (between 25 percent and 30 percent) is normal. But this is
where the story takes a turn.
As doctors were about to transfer the embryos, Tina learned that she was about to
set a world record. The embryo that would become her
daughter, Emma Wren Gibson, had been frozen for 24 years.
Despite the shocking news, Gibson told reporters she didn’t care about setting
any records. All she wanted was “to have a baby.” Still, it was
hard not to laugh at the coincidence.
realize I'm only 25?” she joked. “This embryo and I could have been best
“It is deeply
moving and highly rewarding to see that embryos frozen 24.5 years ago using the
old, early cryopreservation techniques of slow freezing … can result in 100
percent survival of the embryos,” Sommerfelt said in a press release.
According to the
NEDC, approximately 75 percent of donated embryos will survive the
freezing and thawing process. Despite NEDC's low overall pregnancy rate—57
percent per transfer and 49 percent live-birth rate—the company maintains that
freezing embryos offers the greatest hope for many infertile couples.
In fact, the
live baby count on their homepage shows that 686 babies have been born as of
today, including baby Emma: the longest-frozen embryo to come to birth, who happens to be a
year younger than her 26-year-old mom.
Tina was asked if
they might try for a second child, using the remaining two embryos.
doing that again!" she laughed, referring to childbirth. "But I'm sure in like a year, I'll be
like, 'I want to try for another baby.'"