An East Tennessee couple recently welcomed their daughter into the world -- who's a miracle in more ways than one.
Tina Gibson gave birth to her daughter Emma Wren back on Nov. 25, but unlike most newborns Emma could technically be considered much, much older than she appears: She had been cryopreserved as an embryo for nearly a quarter century.
Prior to being transferred into Tina's uterus at the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville earlier this year, Emma spent more than 24 years frozen in a lab. Now, Tina and her husband Benjamin have a miracle of their own to call their daughter -- one who had been conceived by another couple just a year and a half after her 26-year-old mother had come into the world.
According to research staff at the University of Tennessee Preston Medical Library, baby Emma now holds the all-time record for the longest-frozen embryo to come to birth.
"Emma is such a sweet miracle,” proud papa Benjamin said. “I think she looks pretty perfect to have been frozen all those years ago.”
Emma had been frozen on October 14, 1992 and thawed by NEDC lab director Carol Sommerfelt on March 13, 2017. The NEDC said Tina became pregnant with Emma as a result of a frozen embryo transfer, or FET, conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Keenan.
“The NEDC has been privileged to work with the Gibsons to help them realize their dreams of becoming parents,” said Dr. Keenan. “We hope this story is a clarion call to all couples who have embryos in long-term storage to consider this life-affirming option for their embryos.”
- 1 in 7 -- Infertility a harsh reality for many couples
- Many couples struggling to get pregnant turn to IVF
Sommerfelt said it is rewarding to see that embyos frozen for so long can have a chance at life and give couples a chance to welcome a child into the world.
“I will always remember what the Gibsons said when presented with the picture of their embryos at the time of transfer: ‘These embryos could have been my best friends’, as Tina herself was only 25 at the time of transfer," Sommerfelt said.
The NEDC is a faith-based organization that is renowned for its embryo adoption program. So far, it has enabled nearly 700 pregnancies through the program, saying it's purpose is to protect the lives and dignity of frozen embryos not used by their genetic parents and to help couples build a family of their own.
The NEDC performs about 10 percent of all embryo adoption cycles in the country. WBIR 10News has covered stories in the past about couples who were able to start a family through the NEDC -- you can read that story at the link below.