Portland parents welcome twins from embryos frozen 30 years ago
A Portland couple welcomes IVF twins from embryos frozen in 1992. Learn more here.
By Jen Christensen and Nadia Kounang, CNN
In April 1992, Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last” topped the Billboard 100, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton was running for the White House, “Who’s the Boss?” aired its final episode, and the babies born to Rachel and Philip Ridgeway a couple of weeks ago were frozen as embryos.
Born on October 31, Lydia and Timothy Ridgeway were born from what may be the longest-frozen embryos to ever result in a live birth, according to the National Embryo Donation Center.
The previous known record holder was Molly Gibson, born in 2020 from an embryo that had been frozen for nearly 27 years. Molly took the record from her sister Emma, who was born from an embryo that had been frozen for 24 years.
It’s possible an older frozen embryo may have been used; although the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks success rates and data around reproductive technologies, it does not track how long embryos have been frozen. But there’s no evidence of an older embryo resulting in a live birth.
“There is something mind-boggling about it,” Philip Ridgeway said as he and his wife cradled their newborns in their laps at their home outside Portland, Oregon. “I was 5 years old when God gave life to Lydia and Timothy, and he’s been preserving that life ever since.”
“In a sense, they’re our oldest children, even though they’re our smallest children,” Ridgeway added. The Ridgeways have four other children, ages 8, 6, 3 and almost 2, none conceived via IVF or donors.
The embryos were created for an anonymous married couple using in-vitro fertilization. The husband was in his early 50s, and they used a 34-year-old egg donor.
The embryos were frozen on April 22, 1992.
For nearly three decades, they sat in storage on tiny straws kept in liquid nitrogen at nearly 200 degrees below zero, in a device that looks much like a propane tank.
The embryos were kept at a fertility lab on the West Coast until 2007, when the couple who created them donated the embryos to the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, in hopes another couple might be able to use them. The five embryos were overnighted in specially outfitted tanks to Knoxville, said Dr. John Gordon, the Ridgeways’ doctor.
“We’ve never had in our minds a set number of children we’d like to have,” Philip said. “We’ve always thought we’ll have as many as God wants to give us, and … when we heard about embryo adoption, we thought that’s something we would like to do.”
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