KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A 26-year-old Tennessee woman has given birth to a healthy girl born of a frozen embryo almost as old as she is.
Emma Wren Gibson was born Nov. 25 after the fertilized egg that became her spent more than 24 years cooled to very low temperatures in a process called cryopreservation.
Another couple, whose names were not released, had used in vitro fertilization and frozen the fertilized egg Oct. 14, 1992. It was thawed March 13 and implanted in Tina Gibson of Clinton, Tenn., at the National Embryo Donation Center here.
Gibson was 18 months old when the embryo was frozen.
Her daughter, Emma, now holds the record for oldest frozen embryo to be born, according to University of Tennessee Preston Medical Library staff.
► Feb. 1: Couple overcomes 6 miscarriages and cancer to fulfill dream of having kids
► June 2016: How to get pregnant at 50 without in vitro fertilization
► November 2015: Couples give up frozen embryos for 'adoption'
"Emma is such a sweet miracle,” her dad, Benjamin Gibson said in a press release from the center. “I think she looks pretty perfect to have been frozen all those years ago.”
The embryo donation center's lab director, Carol Sommerfelt, thawed the embryo. Dr. Jeffrey Keenan, an obstetrician-gynecologist affiliated with the University of Tennessee Medical Center, performed the implant.
“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,’ " Sommerfelt said. Tina Gibson was age 25 when the embryos were implanted.
Sommerfelt said it is rewarding to see an embryo frozen for so long have a chance at life, especially because cryopreservation techniques have advanced since then.
The center's website lists its pregnancy rate per transfer at 57%. About 49% of the transfers result in a birth.
The National Embryo Donation Center, established in 2003, is a faith-based nonprofit that encourages couples to donate embryos after their families are complete so that other couples unable to conceive can try to have a baby.
Other options for couples with frozen embryos who don't want additional children are donating the embryos to research, thawing them and allowing them to die or keeping them frozen indefinitely, according to the center
The center stores the embryos at no charge to the donors. When a new couple decides to adopt a frozen embryo, they and the donor couple can choose a range of communication options from a totally confidential process to a fully open relationship.
► January 2015: Tennessee couple finds family to adopt unused embryos
► June 2014: Inquisitive Nashville teen finds her egg-donor mom
As of Tuesday, 686 babies had been born from the inventory of embryos that couples in all 50 states have donated, according to the National Embryo Donation Center's website.
"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," said Keenan, the doctor who implanted the embryos in Tina Gibson's womb.
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