Little Molly Everette Gibson is just over a month old today, but her story started almost three decades ago when her embryo was frozen back on October 14, 1992.
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Yep, you read that right. Born on October 26 of 2020, Molly is believed to hold the record for the longest-frozen embryo that resulted in a birth—by the time she was born, it had been 28 years and 12 days since her freeze date. Whoa! And if that wasn’t amazing enough on its own, the previous record of 24 years was held by her older sister Emma, who was born three years ago. Is your mind blown, because ours definitely are. High five, science!
“With Emma, we were just so smitten to have a baby,” their mom, Tina Gibson, told CNN. “With Molly, we’re the same way. It’s just kind of funny—here we go again with another world record.”
If we take time spent frozen into account, Tina is technically only a year older than her two young daughters, according to a CNN article from back when Emma was born. “I guess we would’ve been besties, probably,” Tina told a local news reporter in Knoxville, Tennessee after Molly’s birth, which is a running joke in their house.
Tina and her husband Ben had decided to adopt frozen embryos after they struggled to conceive on their own. Ben has cystic fibrosis, which can cause infertility in men, so exploring other avenues to parenthood seemed like a good option. According to CNN, the couple had wanted a traditional adoption, but changed their mind after Tina’s parents suggested embryo adoption.
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The embryos of both siblings—yes, Molly and Emma are full genetic siblings—had been donated by an anonymous couple to the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) in Knoxville, which stores unused embryos created by in vitro fertilization that would otherwise be discarded. Molly’s embryo was thawed by Carol Sommerfelt, embryologist and lab director at the NEDC, on February 10, 202o. (This is why the record stands at 27 years of being frozen even though it had been 28 years by the time she was born.) She transferred the embryo to Tina’s uterus a few days later.
“When Tina and Ben returned for their sibling transfer, I was thrilled that the remaining two embryos from the donor that resulted in Emma Wren’s birth survived the thaw and developed into two very good quality embryos for their transfer,” Sommerfelt told the local news. “It was even more thrilling to learn 11 days later that Tina was pregnant. I rejoiced with Tina and Ben as we all anxiously waited for the arrival of their second child.”
She adds: “This definitely reflects on the technology used all those years ago and its ability to preserve the embryos for future use under an indefinite time frame.”
Another win for science! And one for the record-breaking Gibson sisters, who definitely have two of the coolest birth stories out there.