I wish you could have been with me this past June. Just like many of you, I was sitting at my desk answering phone calls and managing emails when this email came to my inbox:
Subject Line FW: Pictures and Request for Info
A really exciting, attention grabbing subject line, right? An ordinary day was about to become extra-ordinary in the blink of an eye. This photo came into my view:
And I went on to read that beautiful Marley was born as the 470th Snowflake Baby through the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. She was welcomed into life by her ‘older’ forty-something parents and her delighted sister Emily in June 2016. Marley is one of seven embryos her parents adopted. But here is the really remarkable news about Marley. Marley was conceived in November 1998 and kept in frozen storage for nearly 18 years before this 8lbs 13 oz; 20.5” bundle of love was born.
Marley also has two genetic siblings: Molly who is 22 and Meg who is 17. The older sisters are delighted that her name also starts with the letter M! Molly also observed to her mother that, “I will be 40 years old when Marley is 18!”
Your brain is probably swirling with a hundred questions right now. How did this come to pass? Is this really possible? It sounds like science fiction to me!
Trust me, when I tell people what I do for a living, most of the time their eyes glaze over.
There are well-over 700,000 human embryos in frozen storage in the United States. There are some out there who peg the number at 1,300,000! These embryos were conceived in laboratories to help patients achieve pregnancy and childbirth through the medical procedure called in vitro fertilization. When those patients have welcomed as many children as they desire into their family they often have remaining embryos in frozen storage.
What can be done with frozen embryos?
- They can be thawed and discarded.
- They can be donated to science for research, which destroys the embryo.
- They can be kept in frozen storage indefinitely at the risk of being abandoned.
- They can be gifted to another couple for reproduction.
I’m very sure that Marley’s parents are VERY glad her family of origin decided to give her the opportunity to live.
And so are we.