Through its embryo adoption program, a reproductive clinic in Knoxville has shattered yet another record.
Three decades’ worth of frozen embryos were successfully defrosted, transplanted, and finally delivered. Lydia and Timothy Ridgeway were born thanks in part to the National Embryo Donation Center. The twins broke the previous record for the longest-frozen embryos to successfully give birth to a live child. The twins’ father, Philip Ridgeway, said of them, “They’ve been a joy to have for us, to their siblings, and even just seeing their older siblings interact with them.”
When Philip and his wife, Rachel Ridgeway, talked about having more children, they said they knew they wanted to take part in an embryo adoption program.
We wanted to be able to search for embryos that had been missed due to circumstances beyond their control and had been waiting for a parent for such a long time, said Rachel.
The now parents of six were in Knoxville to take part in the National Embryo Donation Center’s program even though they are from Portland, Oregon.
“They sought particularly the embryos that have been on hold the longest. According to Medical Director Dr. John David Gordon, “They genuinely felt compelled to clearly say we want the embryos that everyone else has passed on.
Between 1.5 and 3 million frozen embryos are currently waiting to be thawed and transferred nationwide, Dr. Gordon stated. Some never get used. Others are exposed to adoption
According to Gordon, “embryos that were previously produced through in vitro fertilization are essentially put up for adoption by other families.” 30-year-old embryos can be challenging to defrost, according to lab supervisor and senior embryologist Sarah Atkinson.
“Slow freezing was used to freeze the Ridgeway family’s embryos because they were frozen so long ago—almost 30 years ago.”
Their lab was successful in doing so.
“Not many people can claim that you broke a world record. I feel privileged to be here, participate in it, and assist the Ridgeways in expanding their family, said Atkinson.
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The Ridgeways now have two additional record-breakers in their clan.
As Rachel put it, “We simply want them to know that they were chosen, cherished, and saved and that god is so good to have done that for them.
On April 22, 1992, the embryos were first placed in a freezer. In October 2022, Lydia and Timothy Ridgeway were born.
Another National Embryo Donation Center couple, Tina and Ben Gibson, held the previous record. Over 27 years were spent freezing those embryos.