Health Care

Malfunction Leads to Loss of Frozen Eggs, Embryos

Malfunction Leads to Loss of Frozen Eggs, Embryos”

More than 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos have been left compromised at a Cleveland fertility clinic after a malfunction caused temperatures to drop last weekend in the freezers where they were stored.

There appears to have been an equipment failure at a long-term storage tank containing liquid nitrogen at the University Hospitals Fertility Center, NBC News reported.

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

The eggs and embryos have been moved to a different cryotank in the meantime, but their viability remains questionable.

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"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", DePompei said a video posted on Facebook Thursday.

No one was at the facility overnight on Saturday, and the storage tank was monitored both on and off-site.

University Hospitals issued a statement saying independent experts are being consulted to determine the cause of the malfunction. They said in a statement, "Right now, our patients come first". This is possible by thawing and implanting the eggs before confirming any damage. University Hospitals says it won't destroy the eggs and embryos, though whether patients will get their money back isn't yet clear. "We have already initiated contact with all of our patients to inform them and respond to their questions, and set up a designated call center to arrange personal meetings or calls with their physicians".

"We are so very sorry this happened and we want to do all we can to support our patients and families through this very hard time". All of the tissue has since been transferred to a working tank. Harvesting and storing eggs cost patients thousands of dollars with one round of in vitro fertilization topping $15,000.

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

Between 2009 and 2015, the number of women freezing their eggs has jumped from 475 and to more than 6,200 according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology which represents most fertility clinics in the U.S., USA Today reported.

Eggs are frozen in order to postpone pregnancy.

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