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East Tenn. baby breaks record after being born from 27-year-old embryo

Published: Nov. 30, 2020 at 12:12 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2020 at 3:14 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Imagine a mother and her daughters growing up together.

It’s a running joke in the Gibson’s house.

“I guess we would’ve been besties, probably,” Tina Gibson said.

Ben and Tina spent years trying to have children. Ben has cystic fibrosis, which causes infertility in some men. Worried they’ll pass CF to their child, embryo adoption was the perfect fit.

“We didn’t realize until it made the news that it was kind of a big thing,” Tina said.

Their newborn, Molly Everette Gibson, was frozen as an embryo for more than 27 years before being born to her parents, Tina and Ben Gibson.

Molly was frozen on October 14, 1992, then thawed by National Embryo Donation Center Lab Director & Embryologist Carol Sommerfelt on February 10, 2020 and transferred to Tina’s uterus by NEDC President & Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan on February 12, 2020.

Twenty-seven years broke a record for the longest time an embryo had been frozen before birth. The previous record-holder was Molly’s sister, Emma Wren Gibson, who was frozen as an embryo for 24 years.

“I think this is proof positive that no embryo should ever be discarded, certainly not because it is ‘old!” said Dr. Keenan. “This is also a testament to the excellent embryology work of Carol Sommerfelt. She is perhaps the preeminent embryologist in the country when it comes to thawing frozen embryos. And of course, it’s a testament to how good God is, and to His infinite goodness and love.”

Molly and Emma are full genetic siblings.

“The fact that we are holding these miracles, it’s unbelievable that god would just pour his blessings on us like that. We don’t deserve it that’s for sure,” Tina said.

Embryos have been donated to the NEDC from all over the United States and couples have traveled to Knoxville from all over the world for embryo transfers.

“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,” said Sommerfelt. “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.” Sommerfelt added, “When Molly Everette was born on October 26, she was already 28 years old from the standpoint of the time the embryos had been frozen. 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. It also shows the reason the NEDC mission is so important, giving all donated embryos the best chance for life.”

To learn more about NEDC visit their website here.

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