Equipment failure destroys thousands of embryos at fertility clinic

Equipment failure destroys thousands of embryos at fertility clinic

Equipment failure destroys thousands of embryos at fertility clinic

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.

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

A liquid nitrogen storage tank at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center unexpectedly heated up sometime between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, hospital administrators told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

According to Patti DePompei, president, UH MacDonald Women's Hospital and UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, these eggs may no longer be viable for use. There has been a temperature fluctuation that may have damaged the stored eggs they said.

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The officials said that one of the long-term storage tank that contained liquid nitrogen had an equipment failure that caused the temperatures to rise temporarily. The cryogenic facilities where the eggs are stored are typically monitored with video surveillance and alarm systems.

In the case of the UH Fertility Center's compromised eggs, patients will only know if their eggs or embryos are still viable by implanting them.

'Obviously the situation that occurred here is devastating for the families involved, and it's devastating for our physicians and our nurses and our staff as well, ' added DePompei.

The UH is bringing in experts to look into the matter.

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The hospital has attempted to notify everyone who has a specimen stored in the tank, but are concerned that some patients may have moved or changed contact information given the length of time that some eggs and embryos have been stored. A call center was also set up to expedite scheduling for any patients that need to come in. We are incredibly sorry this happened.

The hospital has asked patients or those with questions to call the UH Fertility Center information line at 216-286-9740.

University Hospitals does not know how or why the temperature fluctuated, and has launched an investigation to determine exactly what happened, it said in a statement Thursday.

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

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

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