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A Tennessee woman who gave birth in November has set a record for birthing the longest-frozen embryo in the world.
Frozen as an embryo for 24 years, Tina Gibson’s daughter, Emma Wren, could have grown up to be her best friend—Gibson was only 18 months old when the embryo was frozen in October 1992.
According to CNN, Gibson’s husband, 33-year-old Benjamin, has cystic fibrosis, a condition that can lead to infertility in men. During their seven years of marriage, they fostered several children and decided they would eventually adopt until Gibson’s father told her about embryo adoption.
Emma Wren’s embryo comes from the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, a faith-based group that allows people to donate their cryopreserved embryos for free. Candidates go through a “mock transfer” to see if the uterus would be capable of receiving an implanted embryo, then a “home study,” in which a social worker inspects the home as they would in a traditional adoption. In all, the adopting couple pays just under $12,500 for a first try.
Gibson applied to adopt in August 2016 and had three embryos transferred into her uterus in March, all which had been created for in vitro fertilization (IVF) purposes by an anonymous couple. On Nov. 25, she gave birth to Emma Wren, making her one of the 686 babies the donation center has helped birth to date.
While it’s an anomaly that Emma Wren was conceived not even two years after her own mother was born, it’s not clear if her birth is definitely a record. The donation center cites the research staff from the University of Tennessee Preston Medical Library in Knoxville, but according to Dr. Zaher Merhi, director of IVF research and development at New Hope Fertility Center, there’s no way to tell if Emma Wren is the longest-frozen embryo to be birthed. That’s because U.S. companies aren’t required to report the age of IVF embryos to the government—just the outcome of the pregnancy.
“People say, ‘Oh it’s science,’ but no I think it’s a gift from the Lord. It’s a gift from the Lord, for sure,” Gibson told WBIR 10 News. “I just couldn’t believe it that I was carrying a baby. It was just something we didn’t think would be possible to have that right in front of me and to make it tangible this year. It’s just amazing.”
MIRACLE BABY: Emma Wren was born after being frozen for more than 24 years as an embryo. Her mother says she's a miracle and will have quite the story to tell someday. @wbir READ: https://t.co/iSAw1Yk1jQ pic.twitter.com/k6TFCqLJNg— Madison Wade (@madisoncwade) December 19, 2017
H/T Fox 13 Memphis
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.