Glitch At Fertility Clinic Exposes Vulnerabilities In System For Women Freezing Eggs


The hospital estimates about 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged or destroyed by a storage tank malfunction. Women freeze eggs in order to postpone pregnancy until a later date or to have a supply for in vitro fertilization attempts.

The law firm Peiffer Rosca Wolf Abdullah Carr & Kane announced Monday that it filed a class action lawsuit against University Hospitals in Cuyahoga County in the name of a Pennsylvania couple who called the fertility clinic last week to begin the implantation process and learned their embryos had been destroyed.

It could take months for patients of that clinic to know if their eggs and embryos are still viable.

Herbert told the Post his discussions with patients were emotional.

In order to check viability, the eggs and embryos have to be thawed and then implanted.

The dilemma for those involved is that their eggs and embryos have to be completely thawed to determine whether they are still viable, but if thawed, they can not be refrozen. "The medical community calls it tissue, I like to think of it as my children". Embryos - fertilized eggs - are stored individually. The clinic in San Francisco said it will write to the 500 patients that may have been involved in the tank incident.

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A spokesperson with the clinic told the post that an estimated 15 percent of the clinic's total number of eggs and embryos were in the damaged tank.

The University Hospital Fertility Center in Cleveland has a long-term storage tank containing liquid nitrogen that suffered equipment failure. Herbert said the problem was "immediately rectified", and he also praised the clinic's decision to replace the troubled tank with the new one. "Everyone who has talked to their doctor has been told 'your embryos are not viable.' It appears this is far more catastrophic than what was originally reported".

Samples would need to be unthawed to determine whether they've been damaged.

"Right now, our patients come first", UH said in the statement. "We have already initiated contact with all of our patients to inform them and respond to their questions, and set up a designated call center to arrange personal meetings or calls with their physicians". In 1982, he helped to develop one of the nation's earliest reproductive technology programs at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

At least two class-action lawsuits have now been filed against an OH hospital following a storage bank malfunction that potentially destroyed as many as 2,000 eggs and embryos. UH officials say the lawsuit will not affect an ongoing independent review into the malfunction.