2000 frozen eggs and embryos possibly 'compromised' after fertility clinic temperature malfunction

UH Fertility Clinic investigating failure involving eggs and embryos

The site where the egg- and embryo-holding tanks are stored features an alarm system, and the alarm was said to be going off when staff arrived Sunday morning. Some samples date to the 1980s. University Hospitals says it won't destroy the eggs and embryos, though whether patients will get their money back isn't yet clear. They do not know yet if it was a mechanical malfunction or human error.

Patients typically pay about $12,000 without insurance for in vitro fertilization.

The process of removing and freezing a woman's eggs is arduous and can cost upward of $10,000, plus hundreds of dollars in yearly storage fees.

It is exacerbated by the fact that the only way to determine if the specimens are viable is to thaw them, Liu told the Plain Dealer. Some samples that were unfrozen for scheduled procedures this week were not viable.

"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", said Patti DePompei, president of UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, in a video posted Thursday on Facebook. The tanks are attached with alarms, which will go off if the temperature drops below a certain level.

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. Some of these eggs and embryos have been stored in there for decades. Hospital staff has set up a call center to arrange meetings or calls between patients and their physicians to address their concerns. "People move, their addresses change but we've made our best attempts to track down everyone".

DePompei said the temperature fluctuation had occurred "due to reasons unknown" and that the hospital had launched a major investigation to find out what happened.

"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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