Malfunction Leads to Loss of Frozen Eggs, Embryos

University Hospitals

A malfunction over the weekend at a Cleveland fertility clinic may have destroyed more than 2,000 stored eggs and embryos, affecting hundreds of families.

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.

Patti DePompei, president of UH MacDonald Women's Hospital and UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, told NBC News this malfunction may have caused damage to numerous eggs and embryos - some of which have been stored for decades.

Some of the eggs and embryos had been stored for decades. "Obviously the situation that occurred here is devastating for the families involved, and it's devastating for. our staff", DePompei tells NBC News. "But we do know that the temperature that was measured at a portion of the tank was higher than our acceptable limits".

DePompei said hospital staff have consulted with numerous experts to "better understand the cause of this temperature fluctuation and ensure that it doesn't happen again".

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The dilemma for those involved is that their eggs and embryos have to be completely thawed to determine whether they are still viable, but if thawed, they can not be refrozen.

She added: 'Right now, our patients come first. It has also moved the eggs and embryos to a working tank.

Right now, hospital officials do not know how numerous eggs and embryos are viable, only that a number have been impacted. "We are committed to getting answers and working with patients individually to address their concerns", the University Hospitals statement said. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ARSM), as many as 6200 women froze their eggs in 2015.

"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". The cost of the procedure range from at least $12,000 to $14,000. Eggs and embryos are stored for a multitude of reasons, including women freezing their eggs while young to aid fertility, people undergoing IVF or fertility treatments, and those who underwent egg removal or embryo fertilization prior to cancer treatment or other medical procedures.

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