How a family comes to look different for everyone. Many families do things the old-fashioned way but for many others, it's not that simple. Some families adopt, some blend through marriage, and some use a fertility treatment known as In vitro fertilization, or IVF. This process is when an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro, then placed inside a woman's womb. IVF is considered common but it is also expensive and can be a difficult process.
Before a woman can remove eggs for fertilization she must undergo hormone injection treatments and women who receive fertilized eggs can often feel an immense sense of pressure and anxiety hoping to conceive. While many women have their own eggs removed and fertilized then replaced due to a variety of circumstances, other women seek donors, or rather they adopt embryos.
This miracle of science is an incredible opportunity for women who may not otherwise have the opportunity to carry babies in their womb.
Tina and Benjamin Gibson are one blessed family. Recently, couple from Tennessee made headlines when their miracle baby broke a record! Last month, Tina gave birth to a healthy baby girl... who was frozen as an embryo in 1992! At the time, Tina was only a year old infant! Today, her and her husband are very proud parents of a bouncing, baby girl, Emma Wren.
When Emma was born she weighed a healthy 6 pounds, 8 ounces and measured 20 inches long, and that is pretty impressive for a baby that was frozen as an embryo for over two decades! Her miraculous story has spread like wildfire throughout Tennessee and everyone has been excited to hear all the details.
Emma's story isn't just special because of how long she was a frozen embryo, she also broke a record! Specifically, Emma holds the all-time record for the longest-frozen embryo to come to birth, according to staff members at the University of Tennessee Preston Medical Library.
Faith-based embryo adoption program, The National Embryo Donation Center is the program that the Gibson family used to have Emma. NEDC is a program designed for specific kinds of families. They pair hopeful parents with embryos that will never be used by their genetic parents, helping parents miraculously have children when they otherwise would not be able to, and finding homes for embryos that would otherwise not become babies just like Emma.
In a news release, NEDC said that they receive donations of embryos both foreign countries and all 50 states in the USA! These donations has led NEDC to becoming the world's leading comprehensive embryo adoption program! They are credited with more pregnancies through embryo adoption than any other organization or clinic in the world. In fact, on their website they have a "baby ticker," tallying its live births at 686 babies!
Emma may seem like just one special baby in a sea of special babies on the outside but for the Gibson family and the good people at NEDC, she was and is so much more than a number. Carol Sommerfelt, the director for NEDC's lab was the individual to thaw the embryos implanted into Tina Gibson's uterus. When asked, Sommerfelt said it was"deeply moving and highly rewarding" to see the frozen embryos survive especially since they were frozen using early cryopreservation techniques.
Emma was frozen on approximately October 14, 1992 when her future mother, Tina, was only 18 months old. In March of 2017 the embryo was thawed and it was only a mere two days later that she was implanted in Tina's uterus.
Benjamin Gibson, the proud daddy, said:
Emma is such a sweet miracle. I think she looks pretty perfect to have been frozen all those years ago!
Sommerfelt went on to say:
I will always remember what the Gibsons said when presented with a picture of their embryos at the time of transfer: ‘These embryos could have been my best friends,’ as Tina herself was only 25 at the time of transfer.
Dr. Jeffrey Keenan, medical director of the NEDC, was also proud to be apart of the Gibsons' story, saying:
We hope this story is a clarion call to all couples who have embryos in long-term storage to consider this life-affirming option for their embryos.