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Second US fertility clinic reports egg storage tank malfunction

13 March 2018

An Ohio hospital where approximately 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged by a storage tank malfunction has apologized to patients and said it will do "everything possible to address the situation".

Two fertility clinics across the country from each other experienced equipment failures on the same day that may have damaged hundreds of frozen eggs and embryos, something that a fertility expert called a stunning coincidence and that is already producing lawsuits from crestfallen couples.

The March 4 incident at Pacific Fertility Clinic, acknowledged Sunday by the facility's president, followed a similar malfunction the same weekend at an unrelated clinic in Cleveland, the University Hospitals Fertility Center.

She says temperatures in one of the two liquid nitrogen tanks storing specimens at University Hospitals' fertility clinic in suburban Cleveland rose above acceptable limits overnight Saturday for unknown reasons.

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Herbert says the clinic's staff thawed a few eggs and found they remain viable, but they have not checked any of the embryos. 'Our goal is to provide all the patients we see with some kind of a family.

"What is most disturbing to me is that everyone I talked to has been informed by UH that their embryos are not viable, they've been destroyed, different from what has been out there publicly which has been that they've been compromised, we don't know".

In a class action lawsuit, they allege the hospital failed "to maintain, inspect, monitor, and/or test their liquid nitrogen storage tanks".

Immediately upon discovering the temperature increase March 4, the lab director transferred the jeopardized eggs to a spare storage tank.

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It is the second clinic to report a fault that weekend.

The clinic declined to specify the number of eggs and embryos affected but said that "several thousand" were in the waist-high tank.

Herbert told the Post his discussions with patients were emotional. They amounted to an estimated 10 to 15 percent of the total stored at the facility, according to Pacific Fertility Clinic spokesperson Alden Romney. "The Pennsylvania couple entrusted UHFC with their dreams of having children, as well as their most sensitive and important property: their frozen embryos".

The clinic is uncertain how numerous eggs and embryos are damaged, he said, and can't be used for in-vitro fertilization.

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According to the clinic's website, its fees for egg freezing are $8,345 for the initial cycle and $6,995 for each subsequent round. Some dated to the 1980s. Hospital officials say the lawsuits will not affect an ongoing investigation into what happened.

Second US fertility clinic reports egg storage tank malfunction