How Long Can Embryos Stay Frozen?

On November 25, 2017, Tina Gibson, a woman in Tennessee gave birth to her daughter, Emma, who had spent 24 years as a frozen embryo.  This is the longest-frozen embryo to successfully come to birth.  Emma weighed 6 lbs. 8 oz. when she was born and is a thriving newborn.

Emma had initially been conceived via in vitro fertilization and cryopreserved in 1992.  Her biologic parents gave her to an embryo adoption program after that time.  She then remained frozen until she was transferred to Tina Gibson’s uterus in early 2017 at the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Tina was just 25 years old when Emma was transferred to her uterus, which means that Emma and Tina were conceived around the same time.

This successful frozen embryo transfer gives us more information about how long embryos can remain frozen.  The technology used to create and freeze embryos has significantly advanced since the time Emma was conceived, so with newer technology, it’s possible that embryos could remain frozen for even longer than Emma’s case and still create successful pregnancies.

For women, who are freezing eggs or embryos for medical indications or for elective fertility preservation, Emma’s birth shows us that embryos, and likely eggs as well, can be frozen for long periods of time without detriment.  This is great news, especially for women, who freeze eggs or embryos at a young age for conditions such as cancer.

At Reproductive Partners, we’ve had many successful pregnancies from eggs and embryos that have been frozen for long periods of time.  Recent advances in technology have made egg and embryo freezing a great option for women who need or want to delay fertility.

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