Broken fridge leaves thousands of embryos in question

Egg Freezing
UH Fertility Clinic investigating failure involving eggs and embryos

11 March, 2018

Hundreds of families' dreams of having a baby using frozen eggs or embryos may have been dashed due to a storage tank malfunction at an OH fertility center.

Temperatures unexpectedly fluctuated in the liquid nitrogen storage bank at the University Hospitals Fertility Clinic where the eggs and embryos were stored, according to a University Hospitals statement.

The situation is "devastating for the families involved, and it's devastating for our physicians and our nurses and our staff as well", Patti DePompei, president of UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and MacDonald Women's Hospital, told NBC News. The temperature fluctuation may have compromised the viability of at least 2,100 frozen eggs and embryos and may have affected hundreds of families.

"We don't know the reasons why yet, but we do know that the temperature that was measured at a portion of the tank was higher than our acceptable limits", DePompei said.

Prior to surgery, she underwent fertility treatment at University Hospitals to harvest eggs for her future.

'We are committed to getting answers and working with patients individually to address their concerns'.

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"We are bringing in independent experts to ensure we understand all aspects of this occurrence and do everything possible to address the situation", the clinic said in a statement. They have been moved to another cryo tank at the correct temperature. They must be completely thawed to determine viability, but then can not be refrozen. These eggs are watched over using a video surveillance and an alarm system.

Patients are devastated at the potential loss, and as a precaution, the hospital has ramped up security. "Right now, our patients and families are our first priority".

This is a representational image showing a technician opening a vessel containing women's frozen egg cells in Amsterdam, April 6, 2011.

Thousands of eggs and embryos may have been destroyed after a hospital fridge malfunctioned. The costs of freezing eggs is somewhere around $12,000 to $14,000.

DePompei stated: 'We are working very very carefully to determine how we can best support them through the process'.

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