Malfunction Leads to Loss of Frozen Eggs, Embryos

Egg Freezing

Thousands of frozen eggs and embryos were likely destroyed when temperatures spiked in a storage tank at a nationally renowned OH fertility clinic, according to hospital officials and reports Friday. The equipment reportedly failed last month due to which the temperature inside the refrigerator storing the eggs became warmer than it should.

Patti DePompei, president of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital and MacDonald Women's Hospital, called the situation "absolutely devastating".

"We don't know the reasons why yet", DePompei said.

University Hospitals issued a statement saying independent experts are being consulted to determine the cause of the malfunction.

Right now, our patients come first.

Hospital officials say more than 500 patients were affected, including some that provided samples in the 1980's.

"We will work with the patient one on one to understand her needs, understand how we might be able to offer some other avenue for her to achieve fertility, it may not be the exact thing that she had planned but we as physicians will work with the patient one on one and arrive at hopefully a way to help that individual", Dr. Liu said. Per a University Hospitals statement cited by News 5 Cleveland, the facility has "initiated contact with all of our patients", and a call center has been set up so patients can set up meetings with doctors. Some people had multiple samples stored, and some eggs and embryos have been stored since the 1980s. The cryogenic facilities where the eggs are stored are typically monitored with video surveillance and alarm systems.

In order to see if the egg or embryo is still viable, it has to be thawed out and implanted.

According to University Hospitals, none of the eggs and embryos impacted by the partial thaw will be destroyed.

It has also moved the eggs and embryos to a working tank.

The error has affected about 700 families who have been notified of the situation.

The average cost of fertility treatment can be around $10,000 so the financial impact is expected to be significant.

The process has become cheaper and increasing popular among young women wanting to preserve their fertility.

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

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