Phillip Ridgeway and his wife Rachel became parents to Lydia and Timothy on October 31 via embryos donated anonymously by a couple.
A couple in Knoxville, Tennessee, Rachel Ridgeway, and her husband, Philip Ridgeway, have welcomed twins from embryos that were reportedly frozen for 30 years. These may be the longest-frozen embryos that resulted in a successful pregnancy and live birth, reports CNN. According to the outlet, Rachel gave birth to the twins on October 31, 2022. "There is something mind-boggling about it. In a sense, they're our oldest children, even though they're our smallest children," said Ridgeway. The couple is also parents to four other children between the ages of 8 and two but none of them were conceived via IVF or donors.
The embryos originally came from a West Coast fertility facility and were developed for an anonymous married couple using in-vitro fertilization of the husband's sperm and a 34-year-old anonymous donor’s eggs. The embryos—which were frozen on April 22, 1992—sat in storage at the West Coast lab until 2007, when the anonymous couple donated them to the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC).
The five embryos eventually found their way to the Ridgeways who consulted the center in Knoxville to have more children. "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," Ridgeway said. "We've never had in our minds a set number of children we'd like to have."
Rachel opted to transfer all three viable embryos out of the five which were thawed on February 28, 2022. Although she was advised that "multiples can cause problems in pregnancy," Rachel said "she had to have them all as soon as the center showed pictures of her three children."
Out of the three embryos, only two were successfully transferred. According to studies conducted by the National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit, only about 25% to 40% of frozen embryos result in a live birth.
Fertility doctors reveal that embryos can be stored in liquid nitrogen and preserved for decades. Dr. Jim Toner, a fertility expert in Atlanta, said, “It doesn't seem like sperm or an egg or embryo stored in liquid nitrogen ever experiences time. It's like that Rip Van Winkle thing. It just wakes up 30 years later, and it never knew it was asleep."
The Ridgeway twins were named Lydia and Timothy and they officially beat the record of the previous oldest embryo which resulted in a live birth. According to PEOPLE, Tina and Ben Gibson welcomed Molly Everette Gibson in 2020 after her embryo was frozen for 28 years. Marketing and development director of NEDC, Mark Mellinger told the outlet, “It’s pretty amazing. Molly was conceived and frozen 28 years ago, only a year and a half after Tina herself was born."
Cover Photo Source: Instagram/National Embryo Donation Center