25-Year-Old Births Healthy Baby From an Embryo That's Almost as Old as She Is

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For women struggling with fertility issues, embryos can be a symbolic representation of hope for the future. One ecstatic mother experienced her own miracle when she gave birth to her daughter Emma, once a 24-year-old embryo who is now recognized as the oldest frozen embryo to result in a successful birth

  • Tina and Benjamin Gibson struggled with infertility for years.

    "My husband has cystic fibrosis, so infertility is common," Tina told CNN. "We had decided that we were more than likely going to adopt, and we were fine with that."

    After fostering numerous children, the couple decided to try "embryo adoption," in which couples "adopt" embryos donated by anonymous couples after in vitro fertilization. After some extensive research and weeks of waiting, Tina and Benjamin narrowed in on the National Embryo Donation Center

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    "During August of last year, I just came home one day; I looked at Benjamin, and I said, 'I think we need to submit an application for embryo adoption,'" the mother said. "On a whim, we filled out an application and submitted that night."

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  • Tina underwent months of tests to ensure her uterus would be capable of carrying an implanted embryo.

    Once she was ready for the implantation procedure, she and her husband combed over hundreds of embryo donor profiles that contained basic information about the genetic identities of the parents. "It was overwhelming," Tina said. "There was so many, and it's like, how do you pick?"

    After deciding to look at profiles from parents who were similar in height and weight to them, Tina and Benjamin made a decision. Unfortunately, the first embryo they chose wasn't viable, but their second choice ended up being successful.

  • It was only when the implantation procedure began that Tina's doctor broke the news about the age of her embryo.

    "It's a world record!" she remembers their telling her, indicating that the embryos were 24 years old, only one year younger than the woman they were set to be implanted in.

    Carol Sommerfelt, embryology lab director at the National Embryo Donation Center, transferred three embryos from the same donor into Tina, only one of them successfully implanted. 

  • Emma Wren Gibson was born on November 25, 2017.

    Weighing 6 pounds, 8 ounces and coming in at 20 inches at birth, she was a perfectly healthy baby girl. Tina and Benjamin say this is the only thing they were focused on. "I just wanted a baby. I don't care if it's a world record or not," the mother told CNN.

  • Still, after the birth, Tina can't help but marvel at the incredible odds her little girl faced to get here.

    "Do you realize I'm only 25? This embryo and I could have been best friends," Tina said. 

  • While Emma is said to be the oldest frozen embryo to result in a successful pregnancy, no one can really say for sure.

    CNN spoke with Dr. Zaher Merhi, director of IVF research and development at New Hope Fertility Center, who said, "Identifying the oldest known embryo is simply an impossibility." This is largely due to the fact that American fertility companies are not required to disclose the age of the embryo used, so "nobody has these records." 

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    Still, even if we can't say for certain that Emma was a record-breaker, she was certainly a miracle to her ecstatic parents. "We're just so thankful and blessed. She's a precious Christmas gift from the Lord," Tina told CNN. "We're just so grateful."

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