Nov. 21, 2022 – In what is believed to be a record, twins in Oregon were born this past Halloween from embryos that were frozen in 1992.
The National Embryo Donation Center says the twins, named Lydia and Timothy Ridgeway, are the longest-frozen embryos to result in live birth, CNN reported.
Lydia was born at 5 pounds, 11 ounces. Timothy was born at 6 pounds, 7 ounces.
“There is something mind-boggling about it,” Philip Ridgeway told CNN as he and wife, Rachel Ridgeway, held their newborns. “I was 5 years old when God gave life to Lydia and Timothy, and he’s been preserving that life ever since.”
The babies were a result of embryo donation, usually from parents who have extra embryos after successfully having babies via in vitro fertilization (IVF).
In the case of newborns Lydia and Timothy, their donor parents are an anonymous married couple. The husband was in his early 50s at the time, and the couple used a 34-year-old egg donor, CNN reported.
After the embryos sat in storage on the West Coast from 1992 to 2007, the donor parents donated them to the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, TN.
“In a sense, they’re our oldest children, even though they’re our smallest children,” said Philip Ridgeway.
The couple already had four other children, ages 8, 6, 3, and one that's almost 2. None of their other children were conceived via IVF or donors.
“We’ve never had in our minds a set number of children we’d like to have,” Philip Ridgeway 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.”
In an article for Harvard Medical School, fertility expert Ellen S. Glazer said there are countless IVF-created embryos whose future path has five options.
“Those embarking on an IVF cycle are often laser-focused on the baby they long for,” wrote Glazer, a clinical social worker whose practice focuses on reproductive issues. “Most hope a cycle will yield several embryos, because it frequently takes more than one embryo transfer to achieve a successful full-term pregnancy. Any remaining embryos may offer the hope of future pregnancies and additional children.”
If the embryos are not used, the five options are:
- Discard the remaining embryos.
- Have another child anyway, even if a larger family wasn’t the original plan.
- Donate the embryos to science.
- Donate the embryos to another person or couple.
- Decide not to decide. (In this situation, clinics use the term “abandon” when a family avoids contact and stops paying storage fees.)
For the Ridgeways, when they were offered information to help them choose among donated embryos, they decided to focus on those with the lowest identification numbers on the list.
“We weren’t looking to get the embryos that have been frozen the longest in the world,” Philip Ridgeway said. “We just wanted the ones that had been waiting the longest.”