Thirty years after their embryos were frozen, two twins were born on Halloween in what many experts are calling a new record.
“This is a new record for the transfer of the longest-frozen embryo resulting in a birth,” Mark Mellinger of the National Embryo Donation Center said.
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Lydia and Timothy Ridgeway were born Oct. 31 to Oregon’s Philip and Rachel, who declared their birth “mind-boggling.” The couple has four other children, but they said Lydia and Timothy are technically their oldest, according to a report.
The twins’ embryos were frozen in April of 1992 and are from an anonymous married couple.
For 30 years, they were held in a liquid nitrogen storage unit kept at -200 degrees Fahrenheit on the West Coast until they were moved to the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 2007, the report noted. They were thawed out in February 2022.
“We weren’t looking to get the embryos that have been frozen the longest in the world,” Philip Ridgeway said. “We just wanted the ones that had been waiting the longest.”
“I was five years old when God gave life to Lydia and Timothy, and he’s been preserving that life ever since,” according to Rachel Ridgeway. “In a sense, they’re our oldest children, even though they’re our smallest children.”
Dr. James Gordon, the Ridgeways’ doctor, said the time the embryos spent frozen had no serious effect on their viability.
“If you’re frozen at nearly 200 degrees below zero, I mean, the biological processes essentially slow down to almost nothing,” Gordon said. “And, so perhaps the difference between being frozen for a week, a month, a year, a decade, two decades, it doesn’t really matter.”
Fertility specialist Dr. Jim Toner echoed Gordon.
“It doesn’t seem like a sperm or an egg or embryo stored in liquid nitrogen ever experiences time,” according to Toner. “It’s like that Rip Van Winkle thing. It just wakes up 30 years later, and it never knew it was asleep.”