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Woman Gives Birth Using Donated Embryo Frozen for 13 Years

A woman in Georgia gave birth to a “teenage” baby after being implanted with a donated embryo that had been frozen for 13 years.

Nancy and Chris Weiss, both 43, of Atlanta, Georgia, welcomed their daughter, Luna, into the world in December after the successful adoption of an embryo that had been donated and frozen 13 years earlier in February 2004. The couple, who met later in life, had been struggling to conceive naturally, and after six months of trying, they visited a fertility specialist and began IVF treatments.

“The first frozen embryo transfer was pretty devastating for both of us, you assume that IVF is going to work and knowing the science, think it will work on the first time,” Nancy told the Daily Mail. “It was very upsetting to go through all of that, as the hormones jostle your mind and body, and so then not to have positive results is pretty hard. You want it so badly by that point, so to be told you're not pregnant was difficult, but we had to keep moving forward, we never gave up.”

After a year-and-a-half — which included five IVF treatments all with negative results and a chemical pregnancy, or a pregnancy in which Nancy miscarried within the first two weeks prior to the fetus being detectable on scans — the couple decided to try embryo adoption. Embryo adoption is the process in which embryos are donated from couples who have had a successful IVF cycle. The selected embryo is then implanted into the hopeful mother-to-be.

“It was incredible, it was like I knew I was pregnant and just had a feeling, I woke up that morning to take the test and it came back positive,” Nany said. “I told my husband ‘I don't know if it's real but it's positive,’ we were very excited and cautiously optimistic, but remained calm until we had tests done at the doctors.”

In December, the couple welcomed Luna. The new parents are trying to raise awareness of embryo adoption as another option for couples to fall pregnant. It is cheaper than an egg donor and relatively unheard of.

“I had never heard of embryo adoption before then, it's not something that's overly popular, few people know about it and it's much less expensive than other treatments. Our embryo adoption process was under $5,000 which makes it so much more accessible to families because using an egg donor can cost up to $30,000,” Nancy said. “The success rate is 50 per cent with embryo donation, but with the first one we had transferred it worked and she became our Luna.”

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The couple also said that they often encounter confusion when they explain that their infant daughter is, in some respects, a teenager.

“Trying to explain IVF is hard enough, let alone telling people that our daughter had actually been frozen for 13 years. It baffled us, I had no idea how old the embryos were when we adopted them, I thought they would have been frozen for a couple of years, but she was created in February 2004,” she said. “Our miracle girl was frozen in time for a little over 13 years before I was able to give her a belly in which to grow into the beautiful little baby girl she is today.”