NEDC Baby Counter: 1221
This is the place to find the latest news on and media coverage of the NEDC. We have great relationships with journalists. It is our privilege to provide them with positive news stories. Local TV stations across the country cover the NEDC regularly. Our cutting-edge work has also received coverage from national and international media outlets. Some of these include The New York Times, The Today Show on NBC, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, Fox News, The Washington Post, The New York Post, NBC Nightly News, The Daily Mail, People Magazine and Newsmax Magazine.
Enjoy checking out what’s going on with the NEDC. Also, click here to find a bunch more cool stories from families we’ve served.
April 14, 2022
NEDC embryo adoption couple Cam & Becca Sanford didn’t only build their family through the adoption of frozen embryos. Their four children have also come via other routes, including traditional adoption and natural childbirth.
The Sanfords shared their story in a wonderful profile with Insider’s Jane Ridley. You can check out that profile here.
April 7, 2022
KUTV reporter Daniel Woodruff featured NEDC family Grace and Nathan Beldock in a story on the CBS affiliate’s evening newscasts. The Beldocks have seven children, and their two youngest are NEDC twins Simon and Thaddeus.
Catch the story from KUTV here.
December 24, 2021
KOLN reporter Samantha Bernt featured NEDC family Jordan and Trisha Schlake, along with their embryo adoption baby Roen, on the station’s 10 pm Christmas Eve newscast.
Check out the story from KOLN here.
April 12, 2021
Fresno FOX affiliate KMPH-TV told the moving story of an NEDC family’s happy ending following a difficult infertility journey.
Dan and Joy Poeng welcomed their daughter Karis, adopted as an embryo through the NEDC, in October 2020. She spent six years as a frozen embryo. Catch the story as told by KMPH here.
November 30, 2020
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- An East Tennessee baby whose birth was facilitated by the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) has made history with her arrival. Molly Everette Gibson, the daughter of Tina and Ben Gibson, spent more than 27 years as an embryo in frozen preservation, setting the new known record for the longest-frozen embryo to ever come to birth, according to research staff at the University of Tennessee Preston Medical Library.
Molly was frozen on October 14, 1992. She was thawed by NEDC Lab Director & Embryologist Carol Sommerfelt on February 10, 2020 and transferred to Tina’s uterus by NEDC President & Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan on February 12, 2020. She was born October 26, 2020, weighing 6 lbs. 13 oz. and measuring 19 inches long.
What makes all of this even more special is that Molly broke her own sister’s record! Fellow NEDC baby Emma Wren Gibson, born in 2017, had been frozen for more than 24 years, holding the known record for longest-frozen embryo to come to birth until Molly’s arrival. Both girls were frozen together as embryos and are full genetic siblings.
“I think this is proof positive that no embryo should ever be discarded, certainly not because it is ‘old’!” said Dr. Keenan. “This is also a testament to the excellent embryology work of Carol Sommerfelt. She is perhaps the preeminent embryologist in the country when it comes to thawing frozen embryos. And of course it’s a testament to how good God is, and to His infinite goodness and love.”
“When Tina and Ben returned for their sibling transfer, I was thrilled that the remaining two embryos from the donor that resulted in Emma Wren’s birth survived the thaw and developed into two very good quality embryos for their transfer,” said Sommerfelt. “It was even more thrilling to learn 11 days later that Tina was pregnant. I rejoiced with Tina and Ben as we all anxiously waited for the arrival of their second child.”
Sommerfelt added, “When Molly Everette was born on October 26, she was already 28 years old from the standpoint of the time the embryos had been frozen. This definitely reflects on the technology used all those years ago and its ability to preserve the embryos for future use under an indefinite time frame. It also shows the reason the NEDC mission is so important, giving all donated embryos the best chance for life.”
October 30, 2020
The National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) has become the first embryo adoption program in the world to reach the 1000-birth milestone.
Baby 1000, Emmie Sue, “adopted” as a frozen embryo, was born healthy Sunday, October 18, 2020 in Davenport, Iowa to proud parents Josh and Ashley Brookhart. NEDC Physician Dr. John David Gordon performed the successful frozen embryo transfer (FET) through the NEDC’s medical partners at Southeastern Fertility in Knoxville earlier in the year.
“I am just so happy to have been part of Josh and Ashley’s journey,” said Dr. Gordon. “Every single one of those 1000 babies has their own unique story and these successes are a result of the amazing team effort put forth by the NEDC. Embryo adoption is a fantastic option for many couples that struggle with the issues inherent in assisted reproduction. Since joining the team at Southeastern Fertility in August 2019, I have an even greater appreciation for the outstanding work done by the NEDC to coordinate the embryo adoption process. It is so wonderful to celebrate with Josh and Ashley.”
“Starting and running the NEDC in addition to an academic and clinical medical practice has been a huge amount of work, but I would do it all over again without hesitation,” said NEDC President & Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan. “I would have never predicted, 20 years ago, that the NEDC would turn into the largest, most experienced, and most successful embryo adoption clinic in the world. It’s been a great blessing to me and hundreds of families and children. I believe our success is a testament to what can happen if you do your best to follow the path that the Lord has laid before you, regardless of the risks or work involved.”
National Christian leaders such as Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Dr. Albert Mohler and former ERLC President/current Christianity Today Public Theologian Dr. Russell Moore are among those who have offered congratulations to the NEDC for achieving this milestone. Check out their video salutes below.
After years of planning, the NEDC opened its doors in West Knoxville in 2003. The formation was the result of a vision cast by Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) CEO Dr. David Stevens, who saw the need for a high-quality, scientifically and ethically sound way to honor the dignity of the human embryo. This vision was shared by Dr. Keenan, founder of Southeastern Fertility, Baptist Health System of East Tennessee and Bethany Christian Services. All of those entities collaborated to found the NEDC, which began performing FETs in 2004. The first births from the NEDC’s embryo adoption program occurred in 2005.
June 17, 2020
Their two youngest children, combined, were frozen for almost a quarter of a century! It’s an amazing testament to God’s heart for life.
David and Jenny Hancock built their family through foster adoption first, then embryo adoption. Meet their family, learn why they chose both routes and find out how their journey has strengthened their faith in this compelling video released by the National Embryo Donation Center in June 2020.
June 2, 2020
Chris and Courtney Petrone went from not knowing if they’d ever have children… to becoming parents of two babies about eight months apart! It’s an amazing story that Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS-TV told very well on its evening news. Click here to check out the piece.
May 12, 2020
Though they couldn’t meet in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic, WUSA reporter Megan Rivers introduced morning news viewers in Washington D.C. to embryo adoption by interviewing NEDC couple Christy and Robert Spencer via Zoom. Click here to check out the story.
March 11, 2020
WTEN anchor John Gray artfully shared the story of NEDC embryo adoption parents Nolan and Christine Southard with viewers in the Albany market. Click here to check out this very well-done report.
August 27, 2019
Years of prayers were answered in August 2019 when respected and accomplished reproductive endocrinologist Dr. John Gordon joined the National Embryo Donation Center as its second physician.
Dr. Gordon and his family moved to Knoxville from the Washington, D.C. area, where he worked in reproductive medicine for two decades. His addition is designed to help more families adopt embryos through the NEDC and to move NEDC families through the embryo adoption process faster. In his new capacity Dr. Gordon will work alongside and under the direction of NEDC President and Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan.
Below, you’ll find a special video introducing Dr. Gordon and sharing the story of how God led him to the NEDC. Special thanks to Rustic Roots Creative, our wonderful partner in NEDC-produced videos.
June 8, 2019
The National Embryo Donation Center held its 800th Baby Celebration Saturday, June 8, 2019 at Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville. The event was sponsored by the National Fertility Support Center, Bank of Tennessee, Bethany Christian Services of East Tennessee and Chick-fil-A of West Knoxville.
January 3, 2019
Hudson Hollowell begins the story of his life by saying, “I was a frozen pea.” The whole story, of course, is much richer and more complex than that.
Hudson is the 300th child to be born as a result of the NEDC’s embryo adoption program. But he might never have come into being if his mom and dad weren’t patient with and considerate of one another as they debated trying embryo adoption. Hudson and his parents, Ronnie and Leslie, share their story in a new NEDC-produced video called “Hudson’s Embryo Adoption Story.” Special thanks to Rustic Roots Creative, our wonderful partner in NEDC-produced videos.
December 19, 2018
It’s a story that could only happen through embryo adoption: Three couples and their three sets of twins, all connected by the NEDC. Though the twins were all obviously conceived on the same day, they were born as much as 15 years apart! New York Post Senior Features Writer Jane Ridley did a masterful job sharing their story with her readers. Click here to check out the article.
May 13, 2018
Jenny and David Hancock, formerly of Bellevue, NE, have a special family-building story. It not only includes a daughter through the NEDC (who was frozen for 14 years!), but two older daughters through a different form of adoption. Click here to watch KETV anchor Julie Cornell’s excellent report, which aired on Mother’s Day 2018.
April 19, 2018
Curious about what to expect when going through the process of adopting embryos with the NEDC? A new series of videos called “Exploring Embryo Adoption” on our YouTube channel gives you a glimpse of all of the major steps. Special thanks to our production partners at Rustic Roots Creative. Click the corresponding link to watch the video that most interests you:
April 2, 2018
To say there’s a lot of laughter in Anthony and Heidi Wiles’s home would be an understatement. Their son, Malachi, laughs as much as any baby you’ve ever seen.
The Wiles family shares its story in a video called “Malachi’s Embryo Adoption Story.” Click here to view it on YouTube, and please subscribe to our YouTube channel while you’re at it. Special thanks to Rustic Roots Creative, our wonderful partner in NEDC-produced videos.
March 9, 2018
Less than two years since its release on the NEDC YouTube channel, “Three Times The Blessing: The Halberts’ Story” has surpassed the 1,000,000-view mark. In the video, parents Aaron and Rachel Halbert share the story of how God blessed them with triplets through the NEDC as well as two more children through traditional adoption. Click here to watch this moving video. Special thanks to Rustic Roots Creative, our wonderful partner in NEDC-produced videos.
February 20, 2018
For years, Brian and Ashley Baird struggled to get pregnant, eventually hitting rock bottom and wondering if their dreams of parenthood would ever come true. Click here to watch Kaila Lafferty’s report on KATV about how the NEDC was able to help them find answers- times three!
February 19, 2018
Davey and Sonja Edwards got married young and planned on a large family. That didn’t turn out to be so easy. As WFAA reporter Sonia Azad chronicles in this terrific story, the NEDC was privileged to stand in the gap and help.
February 12, 2018
The 700th baby born through the National Embryo Donation Center’s embryo adoption program arrived in late January. Congratulations to Collin and Lacie on the birth of Lucas Tate. Lucas’s middle name, by the way, is in honor of the family that told Collin and Lacie about embryo adoption.
Just a few days after the news of Lucas’s birth, in mid-February, another NEDC family reported a birth announcement, carrying the program past the 700-birth mark. The NEDC has helped facilitate more births via embryo adoption than any organization in the world.
February 8, 2018
Brandon and Lisa Laugherty have three children through the National Embryo Donation Center. The Laughertys have also tirelessly served the NEDC through volunteer work aimed at getting the word out about embryo adoption.
Recently Brandon and Lisa shared their story in a video called “Freezing Out Infertility.” The video got 4,000 views on Facebook within a day and a half of its release. Click here to view it on YouTube. Special thanks to Rustic Roots Creative, our wonderful partner in NEDC-produced videos.
December 19, 2017
A woman living in East Tennessee has delivered the longest-frozen embryo to successfully come to birth. Emma Wren was born to Benjamin and Tina Gibson on Saturday, November 25, 2017, weighing 6 lbs. 8 oz. and measuring 20 inches long.
Prior to being transferred into Tina’s uterus at the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) in Knoxville earlier this year, Emma had been cryopreserved for more than 24 years. According to research staff at the University of Tennessee Preston Medical Library, baby Emma now holds the all-time record for the longest-frozen embryo to come to birth.
Emma was frozen on October 14, 1992 and thawed by NEDC Lab Director Carol Sommerfelt on March 13, 2017. Tina became pregnant with Emma as the result of a frozen embryo transfer (FET) performed by NEDC Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan on March 15, 2017. Tina, 26, spent her pregnancy carrying an embryo conceived just 1.5 years after her own birth. “Emma is such a sweet miracle,” proud papa Benjamin said. “I think she looks pretty perfect to have been frozen all those years ago.”
“The NEDC has been privileged to work with the Gibsons to help them realize their dreams of becoming parents,” said Dr. Keenan. “We hope this story is a clarion call to all couples who have embryos in long-term storage to consider this life-affirming option for their embryos.”
“It is deeply moving and highly rewarding to see that embryos frozen 24.5 years ago using the old, early cryopreservation techniques of slow freezing on day one of development at the pronuclear stage can result in 100 percent survival of the embryos with a 100 percent continued proper development to the day-3 embryo stage,” said Sommerfelt. “I will always remember what the Gibsons said when presented with the picture of their embryos at the time of transfer: ‘These embryos could have been my best friends’, as Tina herself was only 25 at the time of transfer. “
November 27, 2017
Chris Hopper of Atlanta NBC affiliate 11Alive shared the moving story of NEDC couple Terry and Ally Burrell and the embryo adoption birth of their daughter, Hope. Click here to watch the excellent report Chris shared with the station’s 11 p.m. viewers.
October 26, 2017
The Miller family walked a difficult road before the birth of their son through the National Embryo Donation Center. WTVM anchor Cheryl Renee told the story of how, through it all, they relied on their faith in God. Click here to watch their inspiring story.
May 25, 2017
NEDC President and Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan wrote the editorial below. It was posted on The Gospel Coalition website May 25, 2017, and excerpts were also cited by commentator Eric Metaxas on the BreakPoint radio broadcast and website.
Earlier this month, the world was shocked by a story about an Australian company that makes jewelry out of human embryos. The company, Baby Bee Hummingbirds, caters to people who have leftover frozen embryos from the in vitro fertilization process. The “straws” in which the embryos are stored are cremated and turned into pendants. Company founder Amy McGlade believes Baby Bee Hummingbirds is pioneering a “sacred art” that gives families with extra embryos another option besides storage, donation, or destruction.
The original article told the story of a couple with seven remaining embryos who took advantage of this new option. Their embryos were cremated and put into a heart-shaped pendant worn by the mother, Belinda Stafford. “Now they are forever with me in a beautiful keepsake,” Stafford said, adding that she finally felt comfort, joy, and peace.
While it seems embryo jewelry resolved a difficult situation for the Staffords, nothing could be further from the truth. The embryo jewelry concept provides false comfort through deception and denial. First, the whole process appears to be a hoax. I’m a reproductive endocrinologist who has personally performed more than 1,000 frozen embryo transfers. Frozen human embryos are delicate and microscopically small. When the straws storing them are cremated, the embryos themselves would essentially be vaporized.
What remains in the “embryo ash” turned into jewelry, then, aren’t the embryos, but burnt remnants of the device in which they were stored. Baby Bee Hummingbirds could take a coffee straw from a fast food restaurant, burn it, put it into jewelry, and produce substantially the same product. Though a simple DNA test on the ashes could prove the legitimacy of the company’s claims, it hasn’t made the results of such tests available to the public.
“Embryo jewelry” appears to be fraudulent, but regardless of the content of the pendants, the company is perpetrating an even bigger fraud: the idea that the creation of such jewelry is not identical to embryo destruction. The Staffords said they didn’t have the heart to destroy their remaining embryos, but they turned them over to Baby Bee to do exactly that.
My point isn’t to condemn the Staffords. They found themselves, perhaps unwittingly, in a difficult and emotionally charged situation. Disposing of remaining embryos is a matter of great angst, and couples facing this decision deserve to be treated with compassion. The tragedy is that the Staffords were deceived into believing embryo jewelry isn’t embryo destruction. Stafford herself called the embryos “her babies” and mistakenly believed that she was somehow preserving them by turning them into jewelry. How alarming to see the horror of death so easily spun into a symbol of comfort and joy.
The truly life-affirming solution would have been for the Staffords to donate their remaining embryos to another couple waiting to welcome children into their home. The article said donation wasn’t an option for the Staffords, but it’s unclear if they were unable to donate or whether donation was an option they had personally ruled out.
The organization I help lead, the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), would have been glad to accept the Staffords’ seven remaining embryos. We take embryos free of charge from donors all over the United States and from some foreign countries as well, including Australia. How I wish this couple would have chosen life for their embryos and turned to us instead of Baby Bee.
Embryo donation isn’t an easy step for couples to take, but it’s the only life-honoring one.
The Staffords aren’t the only couple to face this dilemma. In the United States alone, hundreds of thousands of these embryonic lives are frozen in time. At the NEDC, we’ve had the privilege of helping thousands of lives out of the freezer. About 650 of those have come to birth and been ushered into the arms of caring mothers and fathers.
Embryo donation isn’t an easy step for couples to take, but it’s the only life-honoring one. Naturally, the thought of turning one’s genetic children over to another family can be jarring. The key, however, is to consider the best interest of the embryos that have been created. Don’t they deserve a chance at birth and a full life?
At the NEDC we do all we can to ensure their placement into stable, loving homes—in some ways mimicking the traditional adoption process. Donors can have open or anonymous relationships with the adopting couples, most of whom have spent years battling infertility. The ability to help another couple build the family they’ve always dreamed of is another beautiful dimension of embryo donation. Perhaps the Staffords would have received far greater comfort in having a relationship with the birth family of their donated embryos and seeing them experience the joy of growing up in a loving family.
While it was heartening to see widespread outrage at the concept of so-called embryo jewelry, increasing awareness of and participation in embryo donation and adoption would be even more encouraging and constructive.
February 15, 2017
WDRB anchor Valerie Chinn profiled an NEDC family in Louisville and visited our lab in Knoxville for an in-depth special report that aired on the station’s 6 and 11 pm newscasts. Click here to check out Valerie’s eye-opening look at the ins and outs of embryo adoption.
September 26, 2016
The National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), one of the world’s leading non-profit advocates and providers of embryo donation and embryo adoption, is celebrating the 600th baby born through its embryo adoption program.
The healthy baby, “adopted” as a frozen embryo, was born Monday, September 19. The family expressed happiness and gratitude toward the NEDC but prefers to remain anonymous. This birth marks the first time any embryo adoption program has reached the 600-birth milestone. “We’ve been blessed with great success,” said NEDC President and Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan. “It’s humbling to reflect upon the fact that hundreds of families now have the children they have longed for and hundreds of mothers have been able to experience pregnancy because of the NEDC.”
After years of planning, the NEDC opened its doors in West Knoxville in 2003. The formation was the result of a vision cast by Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) CEO Dr. David Stevens, who saw the need for a high-quality, scientifically and ethically sound way to honor the dignity of the human embryo. This vision was shared by Dr. Keenan, Baptist Health System of East Tennessee and Bethany Christian Services. All of those entities collaborated with CMDA to found the NEDC, which began performing frozen embryo transfers in 2004. The first births from the NEDC’s embryo adoption program occurred in 2005.
Since then, the faith-based NEDC has gained distinction as a leading comprehensive non-profit embryo adoption program, with more pregnancies through embryo adoption than any other organization or clinic. Its dual purpose is to protect the lives and dignity of frozen embryos that would not be used by their genetic parents and to help other couples build the families they have longed for via donated embryos. Embryos have been donated to the NEDC from all 50 states and couples have traveled to Knoxville from all over the United States as well as some foreign countries for their embryo transfers.
July 18, 2016
Jasmine Taylor-Coleman of the BBC got a firsthand look at embryo adoption during a recent visit to the National Embryo Donation Center. The reporter followed Jennifer and Aaron Wilson through a frozen embryo transfer and was able to learn about how the process works at the NEDC. Click here to read the comprehensive story.
April 28, 2016
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- The National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) was already celebrating record pregnancy and birth rates for its embryo adoption program. Now, after reviewing just-released national statistics, the Knoxville-based NEDC is able to compare its numbers to those of all U.S. clinics performing donated frozen embryo transfers (FETs).
According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), 36.4 percent of all donor FETs performed in 2014 resulted in births. 53.8 percent of all donor FETs performed by the NEDC in 2014 resulted in births, outpacing the combined national rate by more than 17 percent. Since its inception, the birth rate of the NEDC’s program has been about 50 percent.
“This is National Infertility Awareness Week, and it’s a good time to reflect on what a privilege it is to help build families through embryo donation and embryo adoption,” said Dr. Jeffrey Keenan, NEDC president and medical director. “Though we at the NEDC are grateful for the success of our program in particular, we’re also encouraged to see such a birth rate for all clinics nationally.”
Dr. Keenan also pointed out that, according to SART, 1200 donor FETs were performed nationwide in 2014. “This shows that embryo adoption is becoming increasingly common. That number is about double what it was less than a decade ago,” said Dr. Keenan. “We’re thankful the word is getting out about this life-affirming family-building option, which actually allows a mother to carry her adopted child.” About 10 percent of all donor FETs taking place in 2014 were performed by the NEDC.
April 21, 2016
Aaron Halbert shared his family’s experience in The Washington Post after his wife, Rachel, gave birth to triplets via embryo adoption. The editorial, which touched on the faith that motivated Aaron and Rachel to adopt children of a differing ethnicity (both via traditional and embryo adoption), went viral and was The Post’s most-read story of the day online, even generating more interest and discussion than the news of Prince’s death. It remained one of The Post’s most-read stories for several more days.
Click here to check out the editorial.
March 31, 2016
NBC Nightly News followed Rayn and Richard Galloway through a frozen embryo transfer at the National Embryo Donation Center and told the story on the evening newscast in late March of 2016. Click here to check out the report.
NBC also put together a web extra focusing more specifically on the work of the NEDC. Click here to view that.
January 18, 2016
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The National Embryo Donation Center, along with our donation and adoption families, is celebrating unprecedented success after compiling the latest statistics from our embryo adoption program.
61.5 percent of the Knoxville-based NEDC’s frozen embryo transfers (FETs) in 2014 resulted in pregnancies, and 53.8 percent resulted in births. Those numbers are considerably higher than previously reported national averages for all clinics performing FETs. In 2013, the most recent year for which national numbers are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50.1 percent of donor FETs resulted in pregnancies and 40.2 percent resulted in births.
Final pregnancy and birth statistics always lag considerably behind the year the FETs were performed simply because the outcomes cannot all be measured and reported until the nine-month gestation process has been completed for each patient who achieves pregnancy.
“These numbers –the highest in our program’s history- are really something to celebrate because they’re not just statistics. They represent the tiniest of lives being rescued and welcomed into loving homes,” said NEDC President and Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan. “We obviously do our best to optimize care whenever we perform embryo transfers. But as a Christian organization, I think the constant and fervent prayers of those leading and supporting the NEDC are also a huge reason for our unparalleled success.”