27 Years in the Making: the Story of Molly Gibson

Published on Tuesday December 8th, 2020 by WCS

Even though she’s less than two months old, little Molly Gibson has already broken a world record and become a symbol of the powerful role that assisted reproductive technology plays in our ability to create families.

Molly’s story begins in the fall of 1992 when her embryo was created in a laboratory to be used for in vitro fertilization (IVF). The anonymous couple that provided the genetic material to make her existence possible arranged for the embryo to be frozen so that it could one day be adopted and implanted into the uterus of someone unable to conceive the traditional way. Cryopreserved in a laboratory, Molly remained a seed of life frozen in time for almost 27 years.

In embryo freezing, embryos are first cryopreserved by removing fluids from the cell and replacing it with cryoprotectants, which are substances that prevent damage from occurring during freezing. The embryos then undergo a process known as vitrification, which is a rapid freezing procedure in which molecules instantaneously transform into a glass-like structure, before being stored in liquid nitrogen. In this state, embryos can be cryopreserved for future use for an indefinite period of time.

In February 2020, after almost 27 years suspended in frozen stasis, Molly’s embryo was thawed and transferred into the uterus of Tina Gibson, an elementary school teacher from Tennessee. Soon after, Gibson and her husband Ben got the thrilling news that the implantation had been a success and that she was officially pregnant. In late October, Molly was born a 6 pound, 13-ounce bundle of adorable joy, making her the longest frozen embryo known to result in a birth.

However, this was not the first time that the Gibsons had given birth to a record-breaking baby. Before Molly, the Gibsons gave birth to their older daughter Emma in 2017, who been a frozen embryo for 24 years. Emma also happens to be Molly’s biological sister. "With Emma, we were just so smitten to have a baby," Tina Gibson told CNN. "With Molly, we're the same way. It's just kind of funny – here we go again with another world record."

Although the couple struggled with infertility before Emma and Molly, the Gibsons were driven by a fierce desire to have a family. Initially, they had planned on pursuing conventional adoption but changed their course when they learned about embryo adoption.

Molly’s incredible, record-breaking birth reveals a deep truth: love is what makes a family, regardless of how it happens. Her birth also demonstrates how assisted reproductive technology is a powerful tool capable of turning family-building dreams into reality. For the Gibsons, what matters most is they have been able to grow their family. “Every single day, my husband and I talk about it," Tina told CNN. “We're always like, ‘Can you believe we have not one little girl, but two little girls? Can you believe we're parents to multiple children?’”