Thousands of eggs, embryos possibly damaged at OH hospital

Centers refrigerator malfunctioned a temperature fluctuation that affected hundreds of eggs and embryos

Centers refrigerator malfunctioned a temperature fluctuation that affected hundreds of eggs and embryos

The March 4 incident, which was made public March 11, follows a similar malfunction that occurred the same weekend at a fertility clinic at Beachwood, Ohio-based University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center. The hospital hasn't said whether it would compensate about 700 affected patients, who are being notified through letters and telephone calls. Women freeze eggs in order to postpone pregnancy until a later date or to have a supply for in vitro fertilization attempts.

Egg freezing has grown in popularity, with an estimated 20,000 United States women who have had the procedure, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.

The University Hospital Fertility Center in Cleveland has a long-term storage tank containing liquid nitrogen that suffered equipment failure. Pacific Fertility said in a statement that "the vast majority of the eggs and embryos in the lab were unaffected, and the facility is operating securely". He says they have not checked any of the embryos.

Herbert says the clinic's staff thawed a few eggs and found they remain viable.

In a statement, the Pacific Fertility Center said "viable tissue" had been recovered from the one tank affected and that "the vast majority of the eggs and embryos in the lab were unaffected".

The couple called the UH fertility clinic on Monday, March 5, to begin the implantation procedure using their frozen embryos.

"This was a bad incident", Herbert told the Post, "but I was reassured that he did everything anybody could ever want to do". Herbert told the Post some of the eggs in the tank had been tested, and were undamaged. The clinic also has brought in a multidiscplinary team to investigate the tank itself and "every aspect that involves cryopreservation", he said. "The Pennsylvania couple entrusted UHFC with their dreams of having children, as well as their most sensitive and important property: their frozen embryos". Staff members at the clinic then spent days going through patient records to verify which patients were affected.

According to the clinic's website, its fees for egg freezing are $8,345 for the initial cycle and $6,995 for each subsequent round. They must be completely thawed to determine viability, but then can not be refrozen.

"We just want to hold UH accountable, that they should make this right", said UH patient Kate Plants.

Herbert is a longtime physician and researcher in assisted reproductive technology.

The Pennsylvania couple was beginning to set up a time last week for transferring a frozen embryo to the woman's womb when they later were told something went wrong, attorneys said. Hospital officials say the lawsuits will not affect an ongoing investigation into what happened.

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