25-year-old Tina Gibson from Tennessee just gave birth to a baby girl who developed from a frozen embryo that was preserved for 24 years. According to researchers at the University of Tennessee Preston Medical Library, the embryo was the longest frozen and oldest embryo known to ever result in a live and healthy birth.
Gibson was only a year and a half when the egg was frozen. After being implanted with the egg, Gibson marveled, “Do you realize I’m only 25? This embryo and I could have been friends.” Tina and her husband Benjamin, 33, couldn’t conceive their own child because Benjamin suffers from cystic fibrosis, which can cause infertility.
The couple had made plans to adopt when they discovered the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) in Knoxville, Tennessee. In an interview with CNN, Tina recalls, “I just came home one day, I looked at Benjamin, and I said, ‘I think we need to submit an application for embryo adoption.’” The couple submitted their application that very night.
After narrowing down donors based on physical characteristic and medical history, they landed on the 24-year-old-embryo not knowing that their choice had been frozen for over two decades. The embryo they selected was frozen on October 14th, 1992 and wasn’t thawed until March of this year to be implanted in Tina’s uterus.
Embryos such as the one that Tina and Benjamin selected, or fertilized eggs in the early stages of development, have been coined “snow babies” and are cryopreserved or slow-frozen. The previous record for length of time of a frozen embryo was 20 years.
NEDC Lab Director Carol Sommerfelt commented that the Gibsons’ story is “deeply moving.” According to Benjamin, his daughter is healthy and has been unaffected by her time in the freezer.
He states, “Emma is such a sweet miracle […] I think she looks pretty perfect to have been frozen all those years ago.” Tina explains that she couldn’t care less how long Emma had been frozen for: “I just wanted a baby. I don’t care if it’s a world record or not,” adding, “We’re just so thankful and blessed. She’ a precious Christmas gift from the Lord.”
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