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Girl born from 27-year-old embryo

7 December 2020
Appeared in BioNews 1075

A baby girl has been born from a record-breaking 27-year-old frozen embryo.

The arrival of Molly Gibson, who was born in October this year, has set a new record for the longest-frozen embryo to result in a live birth. The embryo, donated in 1992, was used in February 2020 in treatment for Tina and Ben Gibson of Knoxville, Tennessee. Their first child Emma, who previously held the record, was born in 2017.

'We're over the moon,' said Ms Gibson speaking to the BBC. 'I still get choked up. If you would have asked me five years ago if I would have not just one girl, but two, I would have said you were crazy'.

Ms Gibson and her husband approached the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) after struggling with infertility for nearly five years. The NEDC, a Christian non-profit in Knoxville, Tennessee, stores frozen embryos donated by IVF patients. 

Families, like the Gibsons, can then 'adopt' an unused embryo and give birth to a child that is not genetically related to them. Both Molly's and Emma's embryos were from the same donor couple and frozen together when Ms Gibson was around one year old. According to the NEDC, Emma's 24-year-old embryo was the oldest in history to have been born, until Molly arrived.

'It is very rewarding for me to see an embryo that was frozen years ago result in the birth of a lovely baby,' said embryologist and NEDC laboratory director Dr Carol Sommerfelt speaking to the New York Post. 'I feel honoured to be part of the process.'

The UK currently has a ten-year storage limit for frozen gametes and embryos as defined by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. At the end of the limit, a woman must decide whether to become a mother or have her eggs or embryos destroyed. An extension can only be granted for medical reasons and premature infertility.

However, the news of Molly's birth has been celebrated by charities and organisations representing women's reproductive rights, who believe the UK's time limit should be scrapped.

Professor of reproductive medicine and surgery, and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Professor Adam Balen, said her birth was 'wonderful news' and urged the Government to change the law and extend the limit.  

'The news that a healthy baby has been born from an embryo that was frozen 27 years ago underlines how outdated and unscientific the current ten-year storage limit for eggs frozen for non-medical (social) reasons is,' reiterated Sarah Norcross, director of Progress Educational Trust, the charity which publishes BioNews. 'It's time for the Government to change this arbitrary law which damages women's chances of becoming biological mothers and limits their reproductive choices.'

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Baby girl born from record-setting 27-year-old embryo
BBC |  3 December 2020
Girl Is born in Tennessee from embryo frozen for 27 Years
New York Times |  3 December 2020
Remove 'unscientific' egg freezing limit, charities say, after baby born from embryo frozen in 1992
The Telegraph |  3 December 2020
This record-breaking baby is 27 years old - 2 years younger than her mom
New York Post |  1 December 2020
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