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When he was conceived, Bill Clinton was president.
September 5, 2013 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Liam Burke is a baby. He has just learned to crawl. He was conceived through in vitro fertilization, one of several embryos made for his parents, and kept in a freezer. What makes Liam special is how long he was in that freezer: the embryo that became Liam Burke was kept "on file" for 19 years.
posted by ocherdraco (49 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
thats..... weird.
Sorry, I should have something smarter to say.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 3:30 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've heard of prodigies, but that Bill Clinton takes the cake!
posted by Reverend John at 3:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [38 favorites]


So you are saying that Bill Clinton exists in some kind of permanent state of presidency?
posted by ropeladder at 3:38 PM on September 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


question what setting is used on the microwave? just "thaw"?
posted by Colonel Panic at 3:46 PM on September 5, 2013


That reminds me: I really should get that roast out of my freezer.
posted by NedKoppel at 3:46 PM on September 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


He's going to be shocked to find out Hyper Color shirts are no longer cool.
posted by drezdn at 3:49 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


When he was conceived, Bill Clinton was president.

He worked in the Ovary Office.
posted by yoink at 3:50 PM on September 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


I know someone who has a 20 years younger sibling similarly conceived. Apparently his parents thought they'd contemplate another kid fifteen plus years down the road and planned.
posted by hoyland at 3:51 PM on September 5, 2013


I know twins who were frozen embryos, conceived 6 and 7 years before they were born, genetically unrelated to each other, to their father, or to the mother who carried them to term.
posted by straight at 3:53 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am very much against small infants driving cars and voting.
posted by The White Hat at 3:53 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


19 years in the freezer? In all likelihood that the kid is going to turn out to be spoiled.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:54 PM on September 5, 2013 [53 favorites]


oooooooooh, burn
posted by nathancaswell at 3:55 PM on September 5, 2013 [14 favorites]


He's managed to stick around since 1994? He's got one up on Ace of Base!


Sorry.
posted by brundlefly at 3:56 PM on September 5, 2013 [16 favorites]


Chill.L.iam
posted by azpenguin at 4:03 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Not long ago, this would have been inconcievable.
posted by ogooglebar at 4:10 PM on September 5, 2013 [30 favorites]


question what setting is used on the microwave? just "thaw"?

It's a little more complicated than that.

You press Thaw, but then you have to select a food type (press 4 for meat) and then a weight (just press 0). Then push Start. It should take about zero seconds.

You can try leaving it out in the sink, but it takes like a hundred times longer.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:10 PM on September 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


19 years in the freezer? In all likelihood that the kid is going to turn out to be spoiled.

I'm embarrassed by how this made me laugh.
posted by MoxieProxy at 4:11 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is pretty much the same as saving sperm and eggs for 20 years though, right?
posted by miyabo at 4:13 PM on September 5, 2013


If life begins at conception, then he'll be able to drink before he can dress himself.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:18 PM on September 5, 2013 [25 favorites]


19 years in the freezer? In all likelihood that the kid is going to turn out to be spoiled.

Apparently, his biological parents decided he was unbearable.
posted by ogooglebar at 4:19 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Interesting, but unsurprising since I knew two of the Three Guys From Hollywood who created the Dr. Demento Show semi-classic "Frozen Embryo Song" in 1983. That's 30 years ago, and it contained most of the dumb jokes you may be thinking of now. The comments from hoyland and straight show that it's not THAT unusual to havea long delay between freezing and thawing (at least among acquaintances of MeFites, which IS a non-typical sample). But I would be unsurprised if there are some 1983 embryos yet to be thawed that would still be viable.

If life begins at conception, then he'll be able to drink before he can dress himself.
I have an ongoing challenge to people with this 'Religious Science' view that they should ignore their birthdays and celelbrate their Conception Anniversary... of course, first they have to ask their parents about it. But the embryo-freezing does shoot holes in that dubious belief - at least until science figures out how to freeze and thaw a post-born human (and if they couldn't do it for Disney...)

To misquote Star Trek: Frozen Embryos are Life, but not as we know it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:31 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Huh. Usually when I see these stories there's some anti-stem cell angle wedged in there somewhere.
posted by ckape at 4:32 PM on September 5, 2013


Mum's gone to Iceland.*

(*Wit only redeemable in the UK and ROI.)
posted by Thing at 4:34 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Enough with the smartass one-liners, OK? I realize this is a fertile topic, but let's all chill and labor to deliver a fruitful discussion, one we can all be proud of.
posted by gottabefunky at 4:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


19 years in the freezer? In all likelihood that the kid is going to turn out to be spoiled.

Iceman or Mr. Freeze, depending on his life experience and moral development.
posted by fatehunter at 4:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It should be quadruplets, if the sperm bank compounded the interest correctly.
posted by dr_dank at 4:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


Writers shouldn't assume that all their readers are young enough to hear "when Bill Clinton was president" and think "WHOA THAT WAS A HELLA LONG TIME AGO." :(
posted by edheil at 4:42 PM on September 5, 2013 [16 favorites]


It wasn't that long ago. You take that back!
posted by cjorgensen at 4:45 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Or maybe that's what you were saying.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:46 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd be less surprised to discover he was the grandchild of President John Tyler.
posted by Wordshore at 4:47 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, I'm glad the little fellow got a chance.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:49 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


He's going to be shocked to find out Hyper Color shirts are no longer cool.

This is a bit weird, because I was 18 in 1991 and never heard--maybe until today--about Hyper Color shirts. Or if I heard about them, they must've not made an impression because I don't recall these at all. Maybe they didn't make it to my neck of the woods?
posted by zardoz at 5:02 PM on September 5, 2013


So when he finally was born did he come out like this?
posted by littlesq at 5:28 PM on September 5, 2013


I may not agree with them on every point, but the Snowflakes people deserve a lot of credit for an organized effort in this area. (Do the snowflake jokes, that's fine, but they deserve a lot of credit still.) I am a bit of a knee-jerk liberal myself, but if it's cool when a single woman does this, as reported in an article referencing Bill Clinton, it should also be cool when pro-life Christian folks do it.
posted by skbw at 5:45 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


This kid will be the hit of every stoner party in college. Imagine him telling his life story between bong hits. I can hear the "whooooaaaaaaa" from here.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 5:45 PM on September 5, 2013


This kid will be the hit of every stoner party in college. Imagine him telling his life story between bong hits. I can hear the "whooooaaaaaaa" from here.

Just think, he's already almost old enough to buy them beer!
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:56 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


This kid was conceived in the middle of a big uptik in Autism rates here in the US.

Will his outcome will be a result of Nature or Nurture?
posted by vhsiv at 6:18 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


For clarification, Hypercolor shirts are, were, and shall continue to be cool. Indefinitely.
posted by 1adam12 at 6:25 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


In a couple of years, he will be able to buy beer for the rest of the preschool.

I'll be here all week.
posted by 4ster at 6:48 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


He truly is a special little snowflake
posted by Hairy Lobster at 7:08 PM on September 5, 2013


In all seriousness ('cause I'm out of dumb one-liners), I am absolutely in awe of the Oregon couple's incredible generosity in making what must have been the difficult decision to donate their embryo. I don't think I could have done it myself. I'm too selfish. I am ferociously possessive of my own two sons, and the thought of a child of mine being raised by a different family, no matter how open the adoption might be, is heart-breaking. I imagine I have the luxury of feeling that way because my wife and I had no fertility issues at all, whereas Liam's donor parents could easily feel empathy for another couple who also had infertility problems.
posted by ogooglebar at 7:10 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


For clarification, Hypercolor shirts are, were, and shall continue to be cool. Indefinitely.

Indefinite is right, cause you knew really knew when someone was going to break yours by doing the laundry wrong.
posted by Hicksu at 7:54 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Are these embryos inherited like any other property? You'd be able to give birth to your own great-aunt.
posted by nobejen at 9:05 PM on September 5, 2013


"Souls on ice"? Really? I am so sick of this fetish around cell clusters. I mean, good for Liam and all, but I wish we could stop obsessing over embryos and start paying attention to starving children who are actually part of our world. I'm sorry--that was harsh. But I still mean it.
posted by Go Banana at 9:31 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday (2012) that children conceived through in vitro fertilization after the death of a parent were not automatically entitled to survivor benefits under the Social Security law

In 1999, her husband, Robert Capato deposited sperm at a fertility clinic after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He died in March 2002, and his wife then underwent in vitro fertilization. She gave birth to twins in September 2003.

I wonder how this ruling would affect frozen embryos implanted after the death of a parent.
posted by JujuB at 10:22 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a bit weird, because I was 18 in 1991 and never heard--maybe until today--about Hyper Color shirts. Or if I heard about them, they must've not made an impression because I don't recall these at all. Maybe they didn't make it to my neck of the woods?
posted by zardoz at 5:02 PM on September 5 [+] [!] No other comments.

We got Hypercolour, you got guns.
Fair trade?
posted by Mezentian at 6:34 AM on September 6, 2013


The part of the article that jumped out at me:

.... As long as the freezer bill is paid, the embryo is safe -- for years, decades, maybe generations.

That growing longevity on ice raises an ethical issue. "Imagine in a thousand years someone doing IVF with a long-frozen embryo just to see what a 21st century -- or, in this case, 20th century -- human being was like," said Hank Greely, director of Stanford University's Center for Law and the Biosciences. "Just keeping them frozen -- kicking the can down the road a little farther -- seems wrong to me. Use them, destroy them, donate them for research, or donate them for adoption. But make a decision. If you keep putting it off by keeping the embryos in liquid nitrogen limbo, who knows how they may eventually be used?"

posted by ZeusHumms at 6:34 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Imagine in a thousand years someone doing IVF with a long-frozen embryo just to see what a 21st century -- or, in this case, 20th century -- human being was like,"

And then scratching their heads and going, "So, just like us, I guess. Huh."

It doesn't really seem like a realistic scenario. (For one thing, pointless; for another, yeah, the freezer's totally gonna stay plugged in for 1000 years, dude.) And even if it were plausible, so what? What's so unethical about it?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:21 AM on September 6, 2013


Also one of my favorite counters to "life begins at conception!" is asking whether the pro-lifer espousing that belief would choose rescuing a small child or a rack full of frozen embryos, so this is especially odd.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:11 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


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