Fertility Clinics Facing Outrage After Egg, Embryo Storage Failures

Cryogenic storage containers for eggs to be used for invitro fertilization are

San Francisco-based Pacific Fertility Center informed roughly 500 fertility patients that a storage tank malfunction March 4 may have left their eggs and embryos unviable, according to The Washington Post. The clinic called them back later that evening to tell them their embryos had been destroyed.

Egg and embryo storage tanks at two separate infertility centers, one in OH and the other in California, malfunctioned, leaving hundreds of hopeful parents devastated and seeking legal recourse.

Egg freezing has grown in popularity, with an estimated 20,000 United States women who have had the procedure, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.

The March 4 incident, which was made public March 11, follows a similar malfunction that occurred the same weekend at a fertility clinic at Beachwood, Ohio-based University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center.

The hospital hasn't said whether it would compensate about 700 affected patients, who are being notified through letters and telephone calls. The hospital said it's conferring with experts about why the storage tank malfunctioned. In the case in OH, the facility said the only way to determine the viability of the eggs and the embryos of 700 patients is to fully thaw them.

Marlo Emch, patient, Cleveland University Hospital Fertility Clinic said, "It's beyond devastating and like a spiritual emotional physical loss". "But I was reassured that ..."

The clinic has reported the incident to the College of American Pathologists, which regulates labs, and the overseers of California's tissue banks, Herbert said.

The eggs and embryos in tank #4 had been in storage for as long as 10 years, though the tank still was in active use, Herbert said. Herbert said the problem was "immediately rectified", and he also praised the clinic's decision to replace the troubled tank with the new one.

Samples would need to be unthawed to determine whether they've been damaged.

DiCello said he is in talks with other patients to add them to the class-action complaint. In 1982, he helped the nation's earliest reproductive technology programme at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He moved to San Francisco in 1990 and, with colleagues, purchased Pacific Fertility Center nine years later. Hospital officials say the lawsuits will not affect an ongoing investigation into what happened.

"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 videoposted Thursday on Facebook.

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