There is only an 18-month age difference between this proud mother and her child – and thanks to the wonders of science, the record-breaking baby is technically 27 years old.
Molly Everette Gibson was born from an embryo that froze in October 1992 – just 18 months after her mother, Tina, now 29, was born in April 1991.
“It’s hard to wrap her head around it,” Tina told The Post from her home in Knoxville, Tennessee. “But as for us, Molly is our little miracle.”
Researchers at the University of Tennessee’s Preston Medical Library say the girl will go down in history books as the longest-frozen embryo known to be born alive.
Notably, Molly’s arrival on Oct. 26 broke the previous record of her sister, Emma Wren, who spent 24 years on ice before giving birth in November 2017.
The embryos were frozen together and were complete genetic siblings. They thawed nearly three years apart at the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) before being transplanted into Tina’s uterus.
Because they were donated anonymously, their biological parents are unknown.
“I am very honored that a frozen embryo years ago will result in the birth of a beautiful baby,” said Carol Sommerfelt, NEDC lab director. “I am honored to be a part of the process.”
Tina and her husband, 36-year-old Benjamin, first turned to NEDC after, of course, trying their own child in five years. Benjamin suffers from cystic fibrosis, which can cause infertility.
The couple, who have been married for 10 years, have previously raised their children and are considering traditional adoption. However, in early 2017, Tina’s parents told them about the nonprofit after watching an article about it in local TV news.
“We were like, ‘That sounds crazy.’ No, thank you, we don’t care. “Tina reminded her of the possibility of conceiving with a donor embryo.” Then we thought about it further and couldn’t take it out of our heads.
They visited the center (conveniently located in their hometown) and were introduced to the profiles of about 300 strangers who donated spare embryos after IVF treatment.
“We weren’t picky,” said Tina, who works as an elementary school teacher. – We just wanted a baby.
Nonetheless, the choice was narrowed down to short couples – “we’re both little people,” Tina laughed – before the health background of the donors was taken into account. Finally, the embryo that later became Emma in March 2017 was selected.
It wasn’t until the day of the handover that Tina discovered that she had been frozen for 24 years. – I asked the specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Keenant: – What does that mean? he remembered. And he replied, “Well, that could be a world record.”
– I trusted him.
Emma turned out to be the light of their lives. A few years later, the Gibson wanted to provide him with a brother. It was not wise to decide to donate the two remaining embryos from the same donors.
Dr. Sommerfelt, who again oversaw the delicate thawing process, told The Post: “As long as the embryos are properly kept at minus 396 degrees in their liquid nitrogen storage tank, we feel they can be good indefinitely.
“With Molly’s birth, we know they can survive for at least 27 and a half years, and probably longer.”
The Gibsons ’second daughter weighed 6 pounds and 13 ounces, after a relatively simple labor.
It didn’t weaken them that Molly was considered a “big deal” in medical circles. Tina added, “It’s more incredible for us to have two precious little kids we never would have thought we could have.
“We consider Molly – this biting baby – and we feel a blessing.”
As for Molly’s big sister, she doesn’t seem to be bothered by the loss of her record as the ultimate “snowflake infant,” a commonly used colloquial term for frozen embryos.
“They may have to struggle when they get older,” Tina said.
Until then, Emma is “obsessed” with the 5-week-old and wants to keep picking it up. She was very happy to have a special baby when Molly joined the household. Tot named the game after his sister, and mom says he “copies everything we do [to the baby] with her baby. “
Looking ahead, Ben and Tina are already discussing plans to expand their loving family.
Next time, it will probably happen with a traditional adoption. After all, they can’t get the girls ’new biological siblings from the NEDC. “We used all the ‘genetic’ embryos to get Emma and Molly.” Tina finished. “We will be grateful to them forever.”
Facts about “old” embryos
Dr. Brian Levine, practical director of the CCRM Manhattan Fertility Clinic, told The Post that frozen embryos have no known shelf life.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that those on the ice in the 1980s and 1990s “have the potential to degrade over time” because the “slow freezing” technique used by professionals at the time could “cause vulnerability”.
Although he says there is no evidence that a slow freeze can lead to any “fault or disability” in future offspring, “my concern is [in vitro fertilization (IVF)] environment, ”Levine said. “While embryos of the new millennia are likely to last and perform much better than those frozen in the 1990s.”
This is due to the use of vitrification, also known as quick-freezing, and the ability of embryos to be tested on a viability scale today.
Levine added that many stores contain decades of embryos because many IVF parents do not want to destroy the remaining fruit in their groin.
“They’re emotionally attached to these embryos, which they worked so hard to create,” he said. “Calling them to throw them away is emotionally stressful, making it easier to pay only an annual rent [typically between $500 and $1,000] for storage. ”