How Long Can a Frozen Embryo Last?
Last month, Lydia and Timothy Ridgeway were born to Oregon couple Rachel and Philip Ridgeway. But although the twins’ birthday is October 31, 2022, they’ve been around much longer than that – and much, much longer than the usual nine months between conception and birth.
The embryos that would become the Ridgeway twins were created back in April 1992 using IVF and preserved in liquid nitrogen at around -200 °F (-128.9 °C). In 2007, the anonymous couple who had had them created gave the five embryos to the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, where they were eventually selected by the Ridgeways. Although the Ridgeways said they weren’t purposely trying to set a record, they did want to select “the ones that had been waiting the longest.” And they were successful in that goal – setting what is believed to be the record for the longest-frozen embryos to result in a live birth (or two births, in this case).
Frozen in time:
- Of the five embryos that were thawed in February 2022, three were viable. Two were successfully transferred, resulting in Rachel’s pregnancy with Lydia and Timothy. Despite having been stored in liquid nitrogen for nearly 30 years, the embryos did not appear to have “aged” at all.
- The Ridgeways have four older children, none of whom were conceived by IVF. Soon after learning about embryo donation (known in some circles as “embryo adoption”), the couple decided that it was something they wanted for their family.
- Prior to Lydia and Timothy’s birth, the record for the longest-frozen embryo to result in a live birth was held by Molly Gibson, who was born in 2020 from a 27-year-old embryo.
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