After undergoing three failed in-vitro fertility (IVF) attempts in 1998, a woman from Shanghai, China had given up hope of ever becoming a mother. But after one of named Huang Qiong's friends gave birth to twins through IVF last year, she decided to give it one last go. Doctors used an embryo the 45-year-old had frozen 18 years ago in 1998 -- and it, miraculously, was a success! On Wednesday 29 June, Huang Qiong finally gave birth to a healthy little girl.
According to the Shanghai health department frozen embryos are stored in liquid nitrogen at -196°C. Previously frozen embryos were never kept for longer than five years.
"In reality, we will continue storing embryos as long as the patients ask us to do," said Sun Yijuan from the Fudan University’s department of obstetrics and gynaecology.
However although a healthy baby resulting from an 18-year-old embryo is rare – it is not the first time it has happened.
In 2010 medical experts linked to the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Virginia in the US made history when they implanted a 20-year-old embryo into a 42-year-old woman. The result: a healthy baby boy.
The previous record was a baby born from an embryo frozen for 13 years.
A frozen embryo takes about an hour to defrost. As soon as it reaches room temperature it is placed in an incubator in 37°C before being implanted. But it is warned that the chances of getting pregnant are higher when a fresh embryo is used.
Sources: herald.co.zw, sputniknews.com, chinadaily.com, catchnews.com, fertstert.org, singularityhub.com, hfea.gov.uk, slate.com