Twins Born 30 Years After They Were Frozen As Embryos

  • Twins Timothy and Lydia Ridgeway were born 30 years after they were frozen as embryos in 1992.
  • They hold the record for developing from the longest-frozen embryos known to result in a live birth.
  • The adopted embryos were frozen in April 1992 and born in October 2022.

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Rachel Ridgeway, a mom of six, couldn’t be more thrilled that she is just three years older (albeit technically) than her newborns.

The twins, who were delivered three weeks ago, are believed to have developed from the oldest known embryos that led to a live birth.

Rachel and her husband, Philip, got pregnant three decades after their son and daughter — named Timothy and Lydia — were frozen as embryos in April 1992.

The infants’ biological parents, who have stayed anonymous, donated their leftover embryos to the National Embryo Donation Center, or NEDC, after going through IVF. The Christian nonprofit, which only offers frozen embryo transfers to heterosexual couples who’ve been married for at least three years, stored them in liquid nitrogen along with thousands of other embryos.

The NEDC was founded in 2002 as a way of helping people start — or, like the Ridgeways, expand — their families.

“I was 5 years old when God gave life to these embryos,” Philip, a devout Christian, said. He noted that their birth was more remarkable because Rachel was just 3 at the time of their conception.

Married couple Rachel and Philip Ridgeway shown in the hospital with their newborn twins

The Ridgeways “adopted” their twins from the National Embryo Donation Center.

Rachel and Philip Ridgeway

“It’s mind-blowing to think about,” the dad said. “Pretty much everybody we’ve talked to has trouble wrapping their brain around it.”

The Ridgeways, who had four kids aged between the ages of 2 and 8, initially approached the NEDC in December 2019.

“We needed some fertility assistance to conceive our three oldest children,” said Rachel, who took the hormone-boosting medication Clomid.

The couple used the money they would have spent on fertility treatments to pay for their adoption of the frozen embryos

They hoped to welcome their fourth child in 2020. They chose to “adopt” a frozen embryo from the NEDC, based in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“We decided to put the money that we would normally use for fertility care towards embryo adoption,” Rachel said. “We wanted to follow that route.”

Matters changed a few months later when they were surprised to naturally conceive their fourth child, now aged 2.

Rachel Ridgeway, pregnant with twins, stands on a beach in 2022

Rachel Ridgeway said that her pregnancy with the twins was relatively straightforward.

Rachel and Philip Ridgeway

But they were determined to have more kids. They revised their plan.

Philip said that they were motivated by their religious beliefs. “We’ve always thought, ‘Let’s have as many kids that God wants to give us,’ the 35-year-old said. “We thought, ‘We’re not done yet if that’s God’s will.'”

The couple, who live in Vancouver, Washington, selected their embryos in December 2021 from the so-called “special consideration” section of the NEDC.

“These embryos are often overlooked because they were donated by parents who had a known history of certain genetic disorders,” Rachel said.

The Ridgeways said that they didn’t care whether the 30-year-old embryos were considered perfect or not

“We found out that these kids are rarely looked at because many parents coming into the process are wondering what they could have,” Rachel said.

The mom added, “It didn’t really matter to us if they’re considered perfect or not.” The 34-year-old said they were told that the twins’ biological father had died from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“There’s a possibility that it could be a genetic disorder that they may or may not have,” Rachel said. “But we didn’t care.”

Philip told Insider that, unlike some of the would-be parents, they weren’t bothered about the age of the embryos.

Three of them were transferred, and two developed. Rachel, who had a relatively straightforward pregnancy, gave birth on October 31, 2022, at 38 weeks.

Rachel Ridgeway is seen showing her husband, Philip, an ultrasound of their unborn babies

Three embryos were transferred to Rachel Ridgeway. Two of them developed into babies.

Rachel and Philip Ridgeway

Timothy weighed 6 pounds and 7 ounces. Lydia weighed 5 pounds.

The twins’ record-breaking delivery was verified by the University of Tennessee Preston Medical Library. The former record-holder was a child named Molly Gibson, who was born in 2017. The frozen embryo that later became Molly had been stored for 24 years.

As for the Ridgeways, they told Insider that they hadn’t chosen the 30-year-old embryos for the publicity.

The parents plan to tell the twins the story of their conception in 1992 when they’re older

They are united in the way that they will raise their twins. “Our plans for the twins is to make sure their adoption is a part of their story,” Rachel said. “We want to keep it as a normal part of their lives.”

She said that the family would tell them about their origin once they were able to understand.

“They’ll always know that they are adopted,” Rachel added. “We want to make sure that they know that embryo adoption makes them special.”

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