International Fertility Law Group Blog: Live Birth from 24-Year-Old Frozen Embryo

Baby Born from 24-Year-Old Frozen Embryo Highlights Promise of ART

For many of us, the New Year is a time to pause a moment, to count our blessings and to look back at past achievements. Each year, advances in assisted reproductive technology make it safer, more reliable, more cost-effective and more accessible. Among the most transformative breakthroughs in the field was gaining the ability to cryopreserve eggs, sperm, and finally viable embryos, allowing individuals to preserve fertility despite injury, disease and age.

The recent report of a healthy baby born from an embryo frozen 24 years ago highlights the miraculous achievement and promise of assisted reproductive technology.

The baby girl in this story was born November 25, 2017, to a young East Tennessee couple. The couple, who had wanted a baby but had been unable to conceive, were matched with a donated embryo provided by the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), a non-profit organization that is the largest U.S. provider of embryo donation and embryo adoption services. The couple went through more than 500 donor profiles before selecting one that, unbeknownst to them, had been frozen since October 14, 1992—just one-and-a-half years after mom Tina Gibson was born. Baby Emma became the longest known frozen human embryo to result in a successful birth.

The dilemma of unused and, in some cases, abandoned embryos has reached critical mass in recent years, as fertility clinics and cryopreservation facilities cope with growing numbers of stored frozen embryos. Patients have the option to pay to store frozen embryos for possible future use or, once their family-creation goals are met, to donate them for stem cell research; to donate them to the clinic, other persons or embryo donation organizations for procreative purposes; or to discard them—a difficult decision for some. Very few clinics will accept embryos for re-donation, and direct donation to third parties is not as simple as it sounds because it is often difficult to find a match for these embryos. However, organizations such as NEDC offer patients another option: They exist to help facilitate a match for re-donation (sometimes incorrectly referred to as “embryo adoption”).

In addition to offering intended parents another answer to the question of what to do with their unused embryos, embryo donor organizations such as NEDC also offer a lower-cost alternative for infertile couples. For intended parents who use a donated embryo, the cost of becoming pregnant is generally much lower than undergoing in vitro fertilization—$6,000 to $10,000 compared to $15,000 and up, per round.

NEDC, established in 2003, is believed to be the largest U.S. provider of embryo donor and adoption services, resulting in 686 live births to date, according to the organization’s website. In reality, many of the thousands of donated embryos will never be matched with a recipient. But Emma’s story, the miracle of a successful pregnancy and birth, from an embryo frozen 24 years ago—when cryopreservation techniques were much less advanced than they are today—offers us both reason to celebrate and hope for the future.

 

Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn
rich@iflg.net

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
PEIYA WANG(王培娅)
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa
LUIS SOSA
Paralegal

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes
TONI HUGES
Paralegal

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
MIESHA COWART
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.

Kim
KIM DEVEREAUX
Paralegal

Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn
RICHARD B. VAUGHN
Founder

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, thoughtful and compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, serving as chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee and speaking to law students, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo
ELIZABETH TAMAYO
Paralegal

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Tania Steele
TANIA STEELE
Legal Assistant

Tania Steele joined IFLG as a legal assistant in early 2016 and has since been immersed in the complexities of assisted reproductive technology law. Tania received her Bachelor of Arts degree at Chapman University in Orange, California, and a graduate degree from University of Leicester in England, where she pursued an interest in art. In 2013, she accepted a volunteer position at Legal Aid Society of Orange County, where she helped with the intake of new clients and was inspired to obtain a paralegal certificate from Fullerton College. As an undergraduate, Tania lived in Italy and studied the Italian language. She is fluent in English, Spanish and Italian and enjoys assisting as a translator for many of IFLG’s international clients. Outside of the office, Tania enjoys concerts, films, reading and travel.