- Holly Honderich
- BBC News, Washington
Molly Gibson was born in October this year, but had already been in the works for 27 years.
Her embryo was frozen in late 1992 and remained that way until February 2020, when Tina and Ben Gibson, in the state of Tennessee (USA), adopted her.
It is therefore estimated that Molly set a new record for the frozen embryo the longest that resulted in a birth, surpassing the mark of her older sister, Emma, who was born two years earlier.
“We’re on the moon, I still feel like I’m drowning,” Tina Gibson noted after the second birth.
The woman explains that she and her partner struggled with infertility for nearly five years before learning more about embryo adoption.
“If you had told me then that I would not have just one girl, but two, I would have told you that you were crazy,” he said.
Gibson is an elementary school teacher and her husband works as a cybersecurity analyst.
The couple came into contact with the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), a nonprofit Christian organization in the city of Knoxville that stores frozen embryos donated by patients from fertilization processes.
Families like the Gibsons can adopt one of the unused embryos and give birth to a child who is not genetically related to them.
There are an estimated 1 million frozen embryos stored in the US, according to the NEDC.
Mark Mellinger, director of marketing and development of the entity, affirms that the experience with infertility is common among families seeking donations embryos.
“I would say that probably 95% have had some type of infertility,” he said.
“We are honored and privileged to do this work and to help these couples grow their families,” he added.
After the first adoption of an embryo, Tina Gibson gave birth to Emma in 2017, trading sleepless nights by praying for children for the worries related to motherhood.
“It’s the best kind of fatigue,” he says.
Founded 17 years ago, the NEDC has facilitated more than 1,000 embryo adoptions.
Similar to a traditional adoption process, couples can decide if they would like an embryo adoption. “closed“or” open, “allowing some kind of contact with the donor’s family.
Couples are presented with between 200 and 300 donor profiles, along with the demographic histories of the families.
The Gibsons, for example, searched for a child for so long that the options were overwhelming.
“We didn’t care how would the baby be or where it came from, “said Tina Gibson.
“My husband and I are smaller people (in stature), so we analyze it and we reduce it by height and weight and we look for something similar to ours,” she explained.
The Gibsons’ daughters, Molly and Emma, are genetic sisters.
Both embryos were donated and frozen together in 1992, when Tina Gibson was about a year old.
According to the NEDC, Emma’s 24-year-old embryo was the oldest in history that had led to a birth, until Molly arrived this year.
Emma loves her little sister, according to their parents.
“She introduces anyone who sees her as ‘my little sister Molly.’
This is why Tina is delighted to see the similarities between her daughters, including a small wrinkle between the eyebrows when they are angry or upset.
According to the NEDC, the shelf life of frozen embryos is infinity.
However, the time frame is limited by technology.
“It is very possible that one day a 30-year-old embryo will be born,” says Mellinger.
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