KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A fertility clinic in Knoxville has broken yet another record through its embryo adoption program.
Embryos that were originally frozen three decades ago were successfully thawed, transferred, and then delivered. The National Embryo Donation Center was able to help facilitate the birth of twins Lydia and Timothy Ridgeway. The twins set the new known record for the longest-frozen embryos to ever result in a successful live birth.
“They’ve been a joy to have for us, and to their siblings, and even just seeing their older siblings interact with them,” said the twins’ dad, Philip Ridgeway.
Philip and his wife, Rachel Ridgeway, said they knew they wanted to participate in an embryo adoption program when they discussed having more kids.
“We wanted to be able to go in and find embryos that had been overlooked for reasons beyond their control that have been waiting so long for a mom and a dad,” said Rachel.
The now parents of 6 are from Portland, Oregon but traveled to Knoxville to participate in the National Embryo Donation Center’s program.
“They specifically requested the embryos that have been waiting for the longest; they actually felt called to specifically say, ‘We want the embryos that everyone else has taken a pass on,'” said Medical Director Dr. John David Gordon.
Gordon added that there are between 1.5 to 3 million frozen embryos across the country waiting to be thawed and transferred. Some are never used. Others are put up for adoption.
“Embryos that were previously created through invitro fertilization are basically put up for embryo adoption for other couples to come in and adopt those embryos,” Gordon said.
Lab supervisor and senior embryologist Sarah Atkinson said unfreezing 30-year-old embryos can be tricky.
“With the Ridgeway’s embryos, since they were frozen so long ago — almost 30 years ago — they were frozen through a process called slow freezing,” Atkinson said.
Their lab was able to do so successfully.
“Not many people can say you’re world record-breaking. So I’m honored to be here and be a part of it and help the Ridgeways add to their family,” Atkinson added.
Now the Ridgeways have two new record-breakers to add to their family.
“We just always want them to know that they were chosen and they are loved and that they were preserved and that God is so good to have done that for them,” said Rachel.
The embryos were originally frozen on April 22, 1992. Lydia and Timothy Ridgeway were born in October 2022.
The previous record was set by another National Embryo Donation Center couple, Tina and Ben Gibson. Those embryos were frozen for more than 27 years.