In November 2017 baby Emma was born to Benjamin and Tina Gibson in the USA from a frozen embryo and was then, as far as is known, the longest frozen embryo resulting in a successful birth - having been cryopreserved for more than 24 years.
But uniquely, this year the Gibsons ‘adopted’ another frozen embryo and little Molly was born recently, but after a record 27 years in cryogenic storage.
She is probably from the longest successfully frozen embryo, ever. And she is the genetic sister of Emma.
Both embryos were frozen in October 1992 when their adoptive mother-to-be was only a year and a half old!
The frozen embryos were cared for and then thawed by the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) of Knoxville. NEDC Lab Director & Embryologist Carol Sommerfelt carried out the thawing process for Emma in March 2017 and Molly early February 2020. In both cases frozen embryo transfer (FET) was performed by NEDC president and Medical director Dr Jeffrey Keenan. Molly was born October 26, 2020, weighing 6 lbs. 13 oz.
"It is highly rewarding to see that embryos frozen so many years ago using the early cryopreservation techniques of slow freezing on day one of development at the pronuclear stage can result in 100 percent survival of the embryos with a 100 percent continued proper development to the day-3 embryo stage," said Carol Sommerfelt.
At that time the Planer 1.7 freezer was universally used for embryo freezing around the world and although after twenty-seven years the exact machine has been lost in the mists of time, both these embryos would almost certainly have been preserved via the slow freezing Menezo method and in a Planer machine.
Founded some 17 years ago, the NEDC runs a leading embryo adoption program, with nearly 900 pregnancies to its name. It helps utilise frozen embryos that would not otherwise be used by their genetic parents to assist sub fertile couples via donated embryo ‘adoption’. It has facilitated more than 1000 adoptions and births and conducts about 200 transfers a year.
National Embryo Donation Center www.embryodonation.org
BBC news: Baby girl born from record-setting 27-year-old embryo
Blastocyst Cryopreservation, 1995 paper: Kaufmann, Menezo et al
Planer news: Healthy daughter from an embryo slow frozen and stored for 24 years