After spending 20 years in deep freeze, an embryo implanted into a 42 year old woman results in a healthy, live birth. Infertility was a serious issue for the woman and after 10 years of trying to conceive naturally, a couple chose to donate an embryo they had frozen 20 years earlier. The couple froze five embryos in 1990 and used one to have a baby of their own. The remaining four embryos were to be used to help other couples having trouble with fertility.

The interesting part of the story is that all five embryos were created at the same time meaning two children born 20 years apart were conceived on the same day in 1990. The successful implantation of the 20 year old embryo sets a new world record for embryonic age resulting in a live birth. The previous record was held by a boy in Spain who was conceived using a 13 year old frozen embryo.

There will be no other births associated with the frozen embryos as all five were thawed with two surviving the thawing process. Both embryos were implanted into the uterus resulting in a singleton birth. While this is the oldest known embryo to be successfully implanted, that could change soon. Britain is looking into changing holding time to 55 years for frozen embryos. There is a heated debate over lengthening the storage time for embryos.

Source: Donna Dowling-Lacey, Jacob F. Mayer, Estella Jones, Silvina Bocca, Laurel Stadtmauer, Sergio Oehninger. Fertility and Sterility. 30 September, 2010.