Families of the future frozen in time

When the embryo that would become Emma Wren Gibson was frozen in 1992, George HW Bush was president and Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was topping the charts

But Emma wasn’t born until 2017! This is the longest known time that an embryo has been frozen, more than 25 years in fact. The nickname for little ones like Emma? Snowbabies.

Emma’s mother, 26 year old Tina Gibson, and her husband Benjamin ‘adopted’ the frozen embryo when they found out that he was infertile

The embryo, originally created by an anonymous couple going through IVF, had been frozen for more than 2 decades.

Gibson told CNN that,  “This embryo and I could have been best friends!” After all, the embryos of mother and daughter were created at roughly the same time.  Mum also said, “I just wanted a baby. I don’t care if it’s a world record or not.”

In China, a similar story was recently reported, when a 46-year old woman gave birth to a bouncing baby boy from an embryo (one of her own) frozen 16 years before

Since the first successful birth of an IVF baby, Louise Brown, in 1978, fertility treatment using IVF has been increasing significantly year on year. Occasionally couples who have successfully conceived and had a child choose to donate their remaining embryos to others who are unable to conceive naturally. Today, it has been estimated that up to a million frozen embryos are stored around the world.

No scientist can say exactly how long embryos can remain frozen and result in healthy live births, and it does present ethical issues. But, one thing that is certain is that this birth would not have been possible in the UK, where a strict time limit of 10 years is imposed on nearly all frozen embryos . Ironically though, they can be stored for up to 55 years for women with premature infertility or certain medical issues, such as those caused by chemotherapy.

The UK is one of only a few countries that impose a 10 year limit. In contrast, the USA and China have no set time limit . . . read more on fertility campaigners who are lobbying the government to change UK egg freezing laws here


What do you think about IVF with embryos frozen for long periods of time? Do you agree the time limit should be abolished in the UK? We would love to hear from you at mystory@ivfbabble.com or share your opinion on social media @ivfbabble to get the conversation started

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