A baby girl has made history by becoming the first infant to be born from an embryo that has been frozen for nearly three decades.
On Oct. 14, 1992, Molly Everette Gibson was frozen as an embryo after being donated by her biological parents to the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), a pro-life organization.
Mark Mellinger, marketing director for the NEDC, told The Christian Post that the donation of the embryo was given so that she would be born to another set of parents who had previously been unable to conceive.
“[Her parents, Ben and Tina Gibson, are] doing really well,” he explained. “I still think they’re in a little bit of amazement. This was a couple who, if you had asked them five years ago if they could have a baby, they probably would have laughed at you. They’re just exhausted by media interviews. They’ve just run out of things to say.”
Science Alert reports that Molly, who was born in Tennessee on Oct. 26, is nearly as old as her mother, Tina, who is 29 years old and was born 18 months before Molly was frozen in her embryonic form.
Three years before Molly’s birth, her older biological sister, Emma Wren Gibson, was also conceived from an embryo that was frozen for 24 years.
For couples struggling with infertility, doctors are able to help them by uniting the eggs and sperm of couples in laboratories to create embryos. Mellinger noted that the doctors attempt to conceive as many embryos as possible in order to provide an effective treatment.
The remaining embryos are then frozen and stored away after parents conceive the desired amount of children.
According to the NEDC, across the U.S. there are around 1 million frozen embryos.
Mellinger, however, noted that an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 of them grow up. Usage of embryo’s vary from parents who either have them destroyed or used for science experiments. But most parents have them frozen because they don’t know what else to do with them.
Mellinger told The Christian Post that Molly’s birth primarily shows “God’s heart for life.”
“The freezing techniques back then [were] not as good as they are now,” he continued.” However, if embryos were frozen properly and cared for properly in the interim, they can come to birth and be perfectly normal, happy children. The shelf life of frozen embryos might be infinite.”
Molly is currently the oldest embryonic baby to be born, but she’s not going to be the last. According to Mellinger, Embryologists at NEDC say it’s likely an embryo will soon be born after 30 years frozen. He added that statistics on frozen embryos are rare, but none has shown evidence of an older baby.
Molly’s birth also beats the odds as the risk of miscarriages among babies born under in vitro fertilization (IVF) are 2 percent higher than from natural pregnancies, verywellfamily.com reported.
At the present time, there are no laws prohibiting the creation of excess embryos in the U.S. using IVF, Mellinger explained.
He also noted that laws governing reproductive medicine are “very few”, especially in America.
According to U.S laws, embryos are considered property instead of people, Mellinger said. When adoption takes place, it’s considered a property transferred as the baby is given the names of the parents on the birth certificate instead of its genetic parents.
Mellinger contended that pro-life and pro-adoption people should find a mutual understanding in backing the embryo adoption movement. While most Christians call the ethics of IVF into question, Mellinger stressed that embryos need parents.
“Each believer has to carefully consider where he or she falls on [the morality of IVF]. It’s not something that the Bible obviously addresses in an explicit way. It’s a matter of conscience. I think embryo adoption is a needed practice. The bottom line is, the lives are here. These tiny, frozen lives are here,” he concluded.
NEDC currently holds the record for having the most births through embryo adoption in the world, with 1,013 births on record.
Photo courtesy: Tim Bish/Unsplash
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.