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Longest-frozen-embryo baby ‘from the Lord,’ mother says

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — A 26-year-old mother gives all credit to the Lord after she gave birth to a baby girl from a donated embryo frozen more than 24 years, considered a record in cryopreservation births.

“People say it’s science. No, I say it’s purely the Lord,” Tina Gibson told the NBC affiliate WBIR in a Dec. 19 video posted on Facebook. “This is a gift from the Lord for sure.”

The Christian-based National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) in Knoxville, Tenn., announced the birth Dec. 19, noting it as a historical record of the longest-frozen embryo to lead to a healthy birth. Emma was born to Tina and Benjamin Gibson Nov. 25, weighing 6 lbs., 8 ounces, and measuring 20 inches long.

“That’s just the kind of God that we serve that He would do something like that for us. It’s just precious,” the mother said. “She’s precious, She’s perfect.”

Benjamin Gibson agreed. “I think she looks pretty perfect to have been frozen all those years ago,” he said in the NEDC press release.

NEDC Medical Director Jeffrey Keenan described Emma’s birth as “a God thing.” He transferred two embryos into Tina Gibson on March 13, he said in the press release, and only one survived, as is typical. The embryo was conceived less than two years after Tina Gibson was born, but was frozen in 1992 and later donated to the NEDC. The NEDC cites a 43 percent national average for pregnancy from donated embryos, and a 35 percent live-birth rate, based on the Centers for Disease Control.

“We hope this story is a clarion call to all couples who have embryos in long-term storage to consider this life-affirming option for their embryos,” Keenan said.

Founded in 2003, the NEDC describes itself at embyrodonation.org as a nonprofit, faith-based organization “working to protect the lives and dignity of human embryos. … As an organization guided by our religious faith and protected by the Constitution of the United States, the NEDC firmly believes in the sanctity of life beginning at conception and recognizes marriage as a sacred union between man and woman as defined by scriptures of the Holy Bible.”

Christian bioethicist C. Ben Mitchell has applauded the use of frozen, donated embryos to allow infertile couples to give birth, but has cautioned against the creation of surplus embryos.

“I think embryo adoption, generally speaking, is a good thing,” Mitchell said in the November 2016 issue of Focus on the Family’s Citizen magazine. But “while I favor the attempts to rescue frozen embryos, I don’t want to do anything to encourage additional spare embryo production.”

Mitchell, a faculty member in moral philosophy at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., described the use of leftover embryos as a good “rescue ministry” for infertile couples and others, when handled ethically.

“We’re dealing with unborn human beings,” Mitchell told Citizen. “We’re not talking about pieces, parts or mere tissues. Couples don’t want tissues. Couples want a baby.”

The center has performed more than a thousand transfers, assisted in more than 600 births, and received over $3,900,000 in federal funding, according to its own statistics.