A baby has been born from a 27 year old embryo - the oldest in history

Friday, 4th December 2020, 12:12 pm
Updated Friday, 4th December 2020, 12:13 pm

A baby girl has been born from an embryo that was frozen 27 years ago, setting a new record for the longest frozen embryo resulting in a birth.

Molly Gibson was born in October this year, but her embryo was frozen almost 30 years ago, in October 1992.

Longest in history

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Molly’s embryo remained frozen until February 2020, when Tina and Ben Gibson of Tennessee adopted it. Her birth is believed to have broken a record set by her older sister, Emma.

The family had struggled with infertility for almost five years before Ms Gibson’s parents saw a story about embryo adoption on a local news channel.

Ms Gibson reached out to the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), a non-profit organisation in Knoxville. The centre stores frozen embryos that in vitro fertilisation patients decided not to use, but to donate instead.

Families can then adopt one of the unused embryos and give birth to a child that is not genetically related to them.

More than 1,000 embryo adoptions

The NEDC was founded 17 years ago and has facilitated more than 1,000 embryo adoptions and births, and now conducts around 200 transfers each year.

The process works in a similar way to a traditional adoption process, with couples able to decide if they would like a ‘closed’ embryo adoption, or an ‘open’ one.

Those who opt for an open adoption will allow some form of contact with the donor family. This contact can range from something as little as a few emails to in-person meetings.

Couples can choose from between 200 and 300 donor profiles, which detail the donor family’s demographic history.

In the case of the Gibsons, both Molly and Emma are genetic siblings and their embryos were frozen together in 1992.

Until Molly was born this year, her sister Emma’s 24 year old embryo was the oldest in history to have been born, according to the NEDC.

The NEDC explained that the shelf-life for frozen embryos is infinite, meaning it is possible for a birth to result from an embryo that is even older.