A baby born in Tennessee can claim to being the oldest baby ever born. She is believed to be the longest frozen embryo ever successfully delivered in a live birth.
Molly Everette Gibson was born on October 26 but her birthday was an occasion literally takes decades. She was born from an embryo frozen in October 1992, a mind-boggling 28 years ago.
And effectively a lifetime ago. Molly’s mother, Tina is now 29 years old. She herself was only born about 18 months before, when Molly was frozen in her embryonic form.
Simply we can say that both of them been on this planet for about the same amount of time, even though they are a generation apart.
“It’s hard to wrap your head around it,” Tina Gibson told New York Post. “But, as far as, we’re concerned Molly is our little miracle.”
The incredible weirdness of this story gets even weird.
When Molly was born, she broke the record by being another child who was previously the longest frozen embryo ever delivered. That child, Emma Wren Gibson was frozen in an embryo for 24 years before being born in 2017.
Emma also happen to be Molly’s older sister. That means this single family’s two children were two longest frozen embryos ever to be born.
That might sound something weird, as if the Gibson family who previously struggled with infertility for several years, were vying for a spot within the Guinness World Records, but it makes perfect sense once you know the whole story.
Molly & Emma are full genetic siblings that were frozen at same time. After being anonymously donated by their biological parents, whose identity hasn’t been disclosed.
In other words, the 2 sisters are actual sisters. Additionally, to being adopted sisters who were both carried & delivered by their adoptive mother, Tina.
It’s just that it took a little longer than usual. Decades actually, for these patient little ones to have their time in sun.
“We’re over the moon,” Tina Gibson told BBC.
“I still get choked-up. If you’d have asked me 5 years ago, if I would haven’t just one girl, but two, I would’ve said you were crazy.”
The births were facilitated by the staff at National Embryo Donation Centre (NEDC) in Knoxville, a Christian-based non-profit that receives donated embryos from biological parents who have gone through In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), but who have decided not to go through with using the embryo for pregnancy.
In such cases, instead of letting the embryos be discarded, parents can donate their frozen embryos to the NEDC which stores them for later use, working with would-be parents (mostly with infertility), who apply to adopt, carry & deliver an embryo.
The center facilitated over 1000 successful deliveries, but Emma & Molly represent the most scientifically remarkable cases. They’re the longest frozen embryos ever to become babies.
Beyond the novelty of their record-breaking status, their successful births are providing a unique proof of how long frozen embryos can actually last which has never been fully understood.
“As long as the embryos are maintained correctly in nitrogen storage tank at -396 degrees, we feel they’ll be good indefinitely” NEDC lab director Carol Sommerfelt told New York Post.
“With the birth of Molly, we know they will survive a minimum of 27 & a half years and possibly longer.”
While Molly & Emma are testament to the chances, there’s still much risk & uncertainty in the process.
About 75% of donated embryos survive the freezing & thawing process, the NEDC says and about 49% of transfers result in a birth.
Fortunately, IVF success-rates with frozen embryos have caught-up in recent years, and are now thought to be about as successful as treatments using fresh-embryos.
For embryos that make it to birth, a loving family awaits. For some, like Molly & Emma born whole decades after nature otherwise intended. There’s that & more.
When going through the method for the first time, Tina Gibson found-out on the day of the transfer that embryo, she would be receiving had been frozen since about the time of her own birth.
“What does that mean?,” she asked the specialist. He replied, “Well, it could be a world record.”