Malfunction At Freezing Facility Could Have Damaged Thousands Of Frozen Eggs, Embryos

Henrietta Brewer
March 9, 2018

At the tissue storage bank, these eggs and embryos are stored in liquid nitrogen according to a hospital spokesperson's statement yesterday (8th of March 2018).

University Hospitals, in Cleveland, has apologised following the fault at one of its fertility clinics last weekend.

"At this point we do not know the viability of all of the stored eggs and embryos although we do know some have been impacted", she said in a video message posted to Facebook on Friday.

"Clearly the circumstance that happened here is destroying for the families included, and it's staggering for our doctors and our medical attendants and our staff too", said DePompei.

The only way to check if an egg or embryo is viable is to thaw it, which is only done when it is to be used imminently.

The potential damage to hundreds or thousands of eggs would be a devastating financial and emotional blow to the respective patients, which include women donating their eggs, women hoping to delay a pregnancy or women storing extra embryos while they undergo in vitro fertilization.

The storage tank had off-site monitoring and an audible alarm that would alert staff to such a temperature change.

'But we do know that the temperature that was measured at a portion of the tank was higher than our acceptable limits'.

"We are so very sorry this happened and we want to do all that we can to support our patients and families through this very hard time", Patti DePompei, president of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and MacDonald Women's Hospital, said in a video posted on Facebook Thursday.

The organization said it has launched an investigation into the cause of the malfunction, bringing in independent experts. A call center was also set up to expedite scheduling for any patients that need to come in. The healing center says it won't annihilate any of the eggs or embryos and has moved them to a working tank.

With more women deciding on a late motherhood, freezing eggs has become increasingly popular.

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

On average, freezing eggs can cost between $12,000 and $14,000.

"Our hearts go out to the patients who have suffered this loss", Sean Tipton, chief policy officer at ASRM, told NBC News.

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