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A set of twins has been born more than 30 years after their embryos were first frozen, possibly making them the "oldest babies" in history.
Parents Rachel and Philip Ridgeway from Portland, Oregon, are now proud parents to Lydia and Timothy after the frozen embryos were passed onto them by the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) in Knoxville, Tennessee decades after they were first donated, Science Alert reports.
Dad Philip would have been just five years old when his future children's embryos were frozen back in 1992.
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"There is something mind-boggling about it," Philip told CNN.
"I was 5 years old when God gave life to Lydia and Timothy, and he’s been preserving that life ever since."
Lydia and Timothy are now the youngest of six, as Philip and Rachel already shared four children all under the age of 10.
"In a sense, they’re our oldest children, even though they’re our smallest children," Philip added.
"We've never had in our minds a set number of children we'd like to have. 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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The embryos were created using in vitro fertilization (IVF) on April 22, 1992.
They have since been kept in liquid nitrogen at an icy temperature of -196 °C.
Lydia and Timothy were born of the oldest recorded frozen embryos at more than 30 years old, smashing the previous record for the "oldest baby" – Molly Everette Gibson, who was born on 26 October 2020 from a 28-year-old embryo.
The birth saw Molly snatch the record from her own sister, Emma, who was the product of a 24-year-old embryo and born on November 25, 2017.
It is possible that older frozen embryos have been used without their age being recorded as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitors data such as success rates but doesn't specifically monitor the ages of the embryos used.
In fact, the Ridgeways weren't specifically looking for the world's oldest embryos and just wanted to select ones that had been waiting for a while.
"We weren't looking to get the embryos that had been frozen the longest in the world," Philip added. "We just wanted the ones that had been waiting the longest."
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Embryos can be frozen for a virtually infinite period of time.
However, the survival rate after the cell clusters are thawed is about 80%, and a small handful of the transferred embryos will ultimately lead to a successful birth.
In the case of Lydia and Timothy, five embryos were thawed, with three viable enough to be transferred, resulting in two healthy babies.
NEDC physician John David Gordon, who performed the transfer, told the BBC: "The decision to adopt these embryos should reassure patients who wonder if anyone would be willing to adopt the embryos that they created five, 10, 20 years ago.
"That answer is a resounding yes!"
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